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Greater Cleveland RTA obtains additional state funds, revises '09 spending plan

Last month, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) proposed implementing a 50-cent fuel surcharge on all fares and drastically cutting bus service to make up a $20 million 2009 budget deficit. Now, the agency has released a revised budget that defers service reductions and cuts the fuel surcharge in half because of an influx of transit funds recently approved by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.

The governor recently proposed issuing federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality funds to state transit agencies to provide some budget relief in the upcoming year. If approved by the Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency tomorrow, GCRTA will receive an additional $9 million.

The revised budget calls for implementing a 25-cent fuel surcharge on Nov. 2 to generate an additional $4.8 million in revenue. In addition, GCRTA plans to cut $1.6 million in administrative costs by implementing wage and hiring freezes, and limiting travel. The agency also has reduced its original fuel cost projections by $4 million due to declining fuel prices; GCRTA originally had budgeted fuel at $4.10 per gallon, but prices have dropped to $3.45 per gallon.

However, the latest infusion of funds is a short-term solution, GCRTA officials said. The agency still needs to obtain a dedicated state funding source. If the state legislature does not approve dedicated funds in its upcoming budget, the agency will need to drastically cut service and implement another 25-cent fuel surcharge next year, they said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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