Friday, September 17, 2010

BikeWalkLee letter to BoCC opposing budget cuts in transit programs

September 17, 2010

To: Lee County Commissioners
Re: Budget cuts to Lee County transit programs

BikeWalkLee is a coalition working to complete Lee County streets, whose purpose is to create a balanced transportation system that includes pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders. BikeWalkLee is strongly opposed to the proposed $1.64 million cut in the transit budget for the following reasons:

1. Economic and business development. Cutting transit routes and services has serious implications for riders who depend on the system to get to work. According to LeeTran data, a majority of its riders use it as their means of transportation to work. The proposed transit cuts will result in an unacceptable ridership loss. Without a way to get to work, this cut could translate into job losses for these individuals, which has an exponential impact on Lee County’s economy. In addition to the individual job loss, there are also enormous implications for businesses that may be attracted to Lee County. Research shows that businesses relocate to areas with healthy public transit systems. Given the current economic environment, wouldn’t Lee County want to expand (not shrink) its opportunities to grow by holding the budget line on public transportation?

To continue reading the letter, click here.

News-Press 9/24/10
Lee turns wary eye to budget for 2012

By Gabriella Souza • • September 24, 2010
Lee County commissioners just approved the 2010-11 budget, but next year's already looms. County Manager Karen Hawes admitted Thursday night that residents' services will be affected in coming months. Though it's not clear where those cuts will come, commissioners and staff are expected to soon begin discussions about the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, 2011...

Though reductions were foremost on commissioners' minds, they agreed Thursday to pay $783,000 to reinstate LeeTran services they decided to eliminate last month.
At Thursday's hearing, 11 county residents pleaded with commissioners not to slash the routes, especially North Fort Myers Route 90, on which Sunday service was to be discontinued.
"I'd rather wait a long time for a bus than not wait for a bus at all," said Mike Ulrich, president of the Southwest Florida Council for the Blind. LeeTran is Ulrich's primary form of transportation, and he uses the Route 90 bus to meet up with friends on Sundays.

Commission Chairwoman Tammy Hall said it bothered her that some county residents would have no access to public transportation in tight economic times.
"It's only about 3 percent, but it is part of our neediest population," Hall said.

Click here to read the full article:

Thanks to everyone who spoke out against the transit cuts and kudos to the County Commissioners for unanimously voting to restore these cuts. Now, we need to work for INCREASES in transit spending!

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