City council is expected to decide Monday night if it will increase bus fares, cut down on the number of routes and close the downtown terminal as ways to reduce Owen Sound’s transit costs.
A special meeting has been called for 6 p.m. in the council chambers at city hall. Council is to make a final decision at the meeting on transit service levels, according to a city news release.
“That would be the ideal,” operations director Brad McRoberts said Friday.
Council will also vote on authorizing staff to seek proposals for a new contract for operating the transit service.
Miller Transit, the current operator, extended its contract to the end of September.
The RFP, which city staff plan to release by the end of this month, must include a “clear direction on the level of service” required for the term, McRoberts said.
Council will consider the recommendations of its operations advisory committee at the special meeting.
The committee has suggested closing the downtown transit terminal, increasing bus fares by 10% in 2013 and reducing the number of routes from four to three.
The changes are expected to decrease the projected $1.2 million annual cost of the transit system to property taxpayers by about $190,000.
Another $190,000 a year in maintenance and repair costs would be saved if the city purchases three new replacement buses, which it can almost afford to do with the money set aside in a reserve fund for transit.
Options not supported by the committee included eliminating Saturday bus service, offering 45-minute routes instead of 30-minute routes, adding evening bus service and reducing service during off-peak hours.
Owen Sound’s public transit system carries about 300,000 passengers each year.
The service is expected to cost $550,000 more this year than it did in 2012.
The increase is mostly due to higher costs to maintain and repair the city’s five conventional and one specialized bus.
The recommendations approved by the operations committee were made following a public meeting May 15.