Consultant recommends city follow fixed-route bus system

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

A public transportation consultant told city commissioners Thursday that Clovis Area Transit System is ready for fixed routes.

Ream Lazaro said switching to a fixed-route system would save the city money and increase rider options.

The city contracted with Lazaro in September to design a fixed-route system for CATS. Lazaro said he will submit to commissioners a final report on Jan. 25.

The city’s transit system currently operates on an on-call basis, in which commuters have to schedule a their commute a day ahead. Lazaro said the current process, which averages about 5,300 trips a month, is too costly for the city.

“That’s an expensive way to do business in transportation, because it’s similar to a taxi service,” he said.

The operating cost of the city’s transit system for 2007 fiscal year was about $425,000, Lazaro said. Going to a fixed route would cost the city about $380,000, he said. But this figure does not factor in the cost of maintenance or fare revenues.

Lazaro suggested increasing the transit system’s operating budget to add two full-time drivers and one part-time driver. He said a fixed route would spread transit employees too thin.

“You’ve got more than enough vehicles, but do you have enough drivers?” he said.

Having a fixed route would offer transportation opportunities for Clovis residents as the city’s population increases.

“The potential possibilities from an economic development standpoint works for a fixed-route transit system,” he said.

Lazaro presented three fixed routes, which will run 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, and recommends it to begin in July and cost $1 per trip. He said routes to Portales and Cannon Air Force Base could be possible in the future.

Lazaro suggested the city reserve busses for scheduled pick-ups, but limit it to the elderly and the disabled. He suggested raising the fare of the service from .75 cents to $2.

Commissioner Bobby Sandoval said he was concerned with raising the fares for scheduled pickups.

Lazaro said the city will have to raise it to encourage the use of the fixed-route system.

Meetings watch

During Thursday’s City Commission meeting, commissioners:

Approved a comprehensive all-hazard plan for the city of Clovis and Curry County created by Curry County Emergency Management. The plan deals with natural or manmade emergency hazards such as tornadoes, winter storms and wildfires.

Accepted a $7,000 grant from the Library Services and Construction Act technology fund for the Clovis-Carver Public Library. The library will use the grant and money from general obligation bond funds to purchase a $16,000 self-checkout system.

Approved a road expansion project, which will extend Axtell Street from Wallace Street to Ross Street.
The project will cost about $200,000, according to Public Works director Harry Wang.
Wang said half the amount will come from a developer building a movie theater on the north side of Axtell Street. He said the city will pay for the rest with $75,000 from the drainage fund and $25,000 from the District 4 paving fund.

— Compiled by CNJ staff writer Gabe Monte