Stimulus bringing NRoute position

Published 12:06 pm Thursday, December 23, 2010

A new position is being created by the NRoute public transit system thanks to federal stimulus dollars.

The NRoute Transportation Committee voted Wednesday to use $45,000 allocated from the Mississippi Department of Transportation under the American Recovery Reinvestment Act to hire a mobility manager, or regional coordinator, to oversee the transportation needs of the state’s seven-county central region — Warren, Hinds, Copiah, Simpson, Madison, Rankin and Yazoo.

“The mobility manager would take over the transportation needs of the region,” Executive Director Evelyn Bumpers said. “They would go out, possibly, to find additional funds and design routes within the seven regions to make sure that everyone that needs transportation be provided that transportation.”

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Bumpers has been managing the duties of a mobility manager because NRoute was charged by MDOT with overseeing the regional transportation coalition with previous stimulus money.

Bumpers said the new position will relieve her of the duties, thus freeing up time to concentrate on the local operation.

“MDOT doesn’t want to leave that money laying on the table,” committee member Don Brown said, “and if we’re going to move along with other states and look progressive in our public transportation, we need to be spending that money laying on that table or it’s going to go away.”

He said the position likely will connect transportation systems across the state to become a uniform system.

Mississippi Delta Transportation charter service and The Delta Area Rural Transit System are a couple of agencies that have hired a mobility manager.

Bumpers said the person in the position will report to her, but will be stationed at the Jackson Union Station, which officials hope will become the hub for statewide public transportation.

The $45,000 salary includes benefits, and is only good for 12 months under this stimulus program.

“We’re not obligated after 12 months,” Bumpers said. “If this individual wants to continue with their position, they have to get out and make a way for them to get out.”

Bumpers said she has begun interviews for the position.

In other business, the transportation committee heard an official presentation from accountants of Banks, Finley, White & Co., the firm hired by the City of Vicksburg to conduct audits for 2008 and 2009.

The official audits returned a favorable rating for NRoute and gave managerial suggestions for keeping records, which Bumpers said the agency has adopted.

The committee agreed to use the same accounting firm to conduct its 2010 audits, which are due by March 30, however, not required by MDOT or the city. Funding for the audits, which will cost about $5,000, will come from available grants.

December’s ridership of 2,386 passengers with about a week left in the month is holding steady with November, which saw 2,748 passengers.

During the holidays, NRoute will be closed Friday through Monday and Jan. 1 to 3. New Year’s Eve hours are from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.