New routes making dent in NRoute costs

Published 10:52 am Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cuts implemented by NRoute in early 2013 to reduce a projected $55,532 deficit have produced mixed results, the bus system’s accountant said Wednesday.

“Compared to the prior year, you’re seeing an impact from the change in the routes. The cash fares are down $4,000, but you’ve saved … I’m looking at $20,000 in costs,” said Nathan Cummins with May and Co., NRoute’s accountant. “That’s been a good plan and a good way to save costs. I think you’re really seeing it pay off.”

NRoute’s Board of Commissioners in February 2013 approved a new plan for the transportation system that reduced its routes from six to three and cut the system’s stops from 55 to 27. The move was expected to cut the number of miles the buses would travel by 37,680 miles a year, and save NRoute about $108,706 per year.

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The combination of the cuts, transportation contracts with Warren-Yazoo Mental Health and Midd-West Industries and in-kind services from the City of Vicksburg totaling more than $70,000 helped NRoute reduce the projected deficit to a $5,963 loss at the end of fiscal 2013 and enabled the bus system to begin fiscal 2014 in the black.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Sept. 9 increased the city’s supplement to NRoute from $125,000 to $200,000 a year and authorized an extra $30,906 to help the transit system finish September in the black. The board also approved writing off an additional $44,227 NRoute owed the city for bus repairs and maintenance.

As of Wednesday, NRoute’s net income for the first six months of the fiscal year totaled $24,065, compared with being $22,050.54 in the red for the same period last year.

“Overall for the year, you’ve still got a some cushion,” Cummins said. But he warned the board the cushion would diminish, “because you’re running a small deficit monthly and you’ll have some more capital purchases, I’m sure.”

In other action, the board:

• Learned ridership was down by 271 so far for the first six months of fiscal 2014, from 21,384 in 2013 to 21,113 as Wednesday. Fares, however, were up by more than $20,000 for the same period, with NRoute collecting $53,502.05 as of Wednesday, compared with $33,212.03, a difference of $20,209.02.

Bumpers credited the Warren-Yazoo and Midd-West contracts, adding she has also been talking with St. Louis-based MTM, a medical transportation management company that is expected to be providing transportation services for Mississippi’s Medicaid patients.

Warren/Yazoo pays NRoute $4.50 per rider or about $3,000 a month to pick up people attending its treatment and group programs. The contract with MIDD-West allows the agency to purchase monthly passes for workers at $35 per person.

She said any arrangement between NRoute and MTM to provide transportation services for Medicaid patients in the city or the county was pending MTM’s contract with the state.
• Learned NRoute will be receiving a new van for its fleet. The van was bought using multi-modal funds from the Mississippi Department of Transportation. Bumpers said the bus system will have begin looking to buy another bus, adding all of the buses have more than 100,000 miles and maintenance costs to keep them going are rising.

She said one bus has having outlived its service life and is being parked. She said she plans to park another bus for the same reason.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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