September 3, 2015

80° Fair

MDOT selects NRoute as model system

Published 11:16 am Friday, June 27, 2014

Federal Transportation Administration officials were in Vicksburg Wednesday taking a look at NRoute as part of the FTA’s state management review of the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

Board president Don Brown said that MDOT selected the city’s transportation system as a model subcontractor for federal review.

“And you can bet they’re not going to show somebody that’s going to embarrass them,” he said. “They’re showing somebody they know that the feds have told them they’re doing it as the feds have told them to. I think it’s an honor that out of all the systems in this area, they selected to being them over here to see this system.”

“We’re ready,” Evelyn Bumpers, NRoute executive director said. She said MDOT notified her of the visit earlier.

“When I first got the phone call, they said, ‘well, we’ve got some good news, you’ve been selected as one of the models in the state. We selected NRoute,’” she said.

The news comes on the heels of last month’s announcement that the transit system could finish fiscal 2014 in the black. The financial turnaround is the result of cost cutting measures implemented by NRoute’s Board of Commissioners in 2013.

“They want to take a look at where we were and where we are now,” Bumpers said. “You can see the changes we put in place, and what they (MDOT) did, was take the (federal) monitors through our steps as to what we did when we were in the financial crush, the technical support we were given, the steps we took to better ourselves and show where we are today.”

She commended the board members for staying with NRoute during its financial problems.

“When you look at public transportation across the country having problems, it’s a testament (to the board) to have the courage to cut those routes down and be able to stay within a manageable budget and convince the city leaders that it was worth their while,” Brown said.

NRoute commissioners in March 2013 took steps to reduce its routes from six to three and laid off three drivers. The move was projected to save the cash-strapped bus system about $108,706 per year.

The board in April 2013 reduced two full-time administrative employees to part-time, cutting their salaries and removing insurance benefits in a move estimated to save about $21,060 a year. An operations manager position was restored to full-time in June.

In other action, the board:

• Learned NRoute’s net income through June totaled $24,220.81, $16,695.78 more than the $7,525.03 projected for the period of October through June.

• Learned bus ridership so far for 2014 was down by 95 passengers as of Wednesday, from 32,351 for the same period in 2013 to 32,256 in 2014. Revenue from fares was up by $30,282.08 from 2013.

As of Wednesday, revenue from fares and contracts with Warren-Yazoo Mental Health and MIDD-West Industries from October to June totaled $81,615.83, compared with $51,33.75 for the same period in fiscal 2013. The year-to-date revenue total has already exceeded the total $79,714.86 in revenue collected in fiscal 2013.