Riders and supporters of Jefferson City's transit system are continuing to speak out against a proposed cut in service.
More than 25 people turned out for the city's second public hearing on the proposed midday break, which would suspend service on both JeffTran and Handi Wheels from 11:20 a.m.-2:40 p.m. each day. The proposed service suspension is part of a package of budget cuts approved last month to cover a $1.68 million shortfall for this fiscal year. The midday break would save the city $55,000 for the year.
Although the City Council already has approved the package of cuts, the city is required by federal regulations to hold public hearings before any change can be made to the transit schedule.
The Rev. Jeanie McGowan, a pastor at First Baptist Church, said it's wrong for the city to try to balance its shortfall on the backs of those who can least afford it. She said it's hard enough for people to travel on transit as it is and the cut would only hinder more people who need it.
"I love this city ... I want to see it thrive," McGowan said. "It's tough enough now."
Dawn Jenkins said the break would be nearly impossible for transit riders to deal with.
"This being the capital city of Missouri, I think that cutting the bus service actually will hurt our public image," Jenkins said. "I just think this is a bad move."
A letter also was submitted to city staff on behalf of the local chapter of the AARP. The letter, written by chapter president Charlotte Parsons, said the executive board of the chapter opposes the proposed midday break.
"Many of our members do not drive and depend on public transportation," Parsons wrote. "We support public transportation. Do not eliminate middle of the day service."
Interim Public Works Director Matt Morasch said all comments from the hearings will be transmitted to the full council, which ultimately will decide whether to keep the proposed cuts.
Two members of the City Council and one soon-to-be councilman attended Thursday's hearing. Third Ward Councilman Bob Scrivner, 4th Ward Councilman Bill Luebbert and Ken Hussey, who will be sworn in as a 3rd Ward council representative Monday, attended the hearing Thursday.
Luebbert will be off the council before a final decision is made as he lost a bid for re-election earlier this month.
Mayor Eric Struemph did not attend the hearing.
Information from the two hearings held this week will be taken to the full City Council on May 6, where a third public hearing will be held.
You can submit your comments to the City Council about the proposed transit cuts by submitting a form to City Hall in person or by mail. The form can be found at www.newstribune.com/transitform.