Nashville’s bus service WeGo Public Transit is looking at a need to raise rates while cutting hours or frequency of routes thanks to a budget shortfall of $8.7 million, Nashville Public Radio says.
WeGo presented its budget to Metro Council on Wednesday.
The financial gap is due largely to a reduction in state funding, a dip in fare revenue and higher employee insurance costs, Nashville Public Radio said. WeGo asked Mayor David Briley for $57.3 million to maintain its service, but Briley proposed a budget of $48.6 million. The last fare increase was in 2012.
According to WeGo’s fare card, rates start at $1.70.
WeGo Public Transit officials told WKRN that this would be the third straight year for a flat funding level from the city. While the budget is not a cut, they are not receiving the amount they requested to cover their expenses.
Activist group Music City Riders Unlimited held a rally Wednesday afternoon at 1 Public Square, according to its Facebook page.
One post on Tuesday previewing the rally read:
Don’t let Mayor Briley pit public services — and the public — against each other. Join us tomorrow, May 15 @ 4:30 at 1 Public Square to put an end to the budget hunger games and call for fully funding public transit!
Our teachers, public workers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers and bus riders deserve more than fighting for scraps, while we see millions of dollars of public funds handed over to rich developers and companies. Public funds should be used to serve public needs, not line the pockets of rich developers and companies.
Metro Nashville officials have been sounding the alarm on the city’s finances for some time, as The Tennessee Star reported in January.
Briley’s proposed $2.3 billion budget is a 4.55 percent increase from the previous year, the Nashville Scene said. However, it relies upon two non-recurring sources worth $41.5 million — the outsourcing of management and enforcement for on-street parking and the sale of the city’s downtown energy system.
Skeptics of the parking privatization plan have been speaking out with their concerns.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.