No fare increases or service cuts planned in balanced budget
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill., Sept. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pace's preliminary 2012 operating and capital budgets are balanced and call for no service cuts or fare increases. The stable budget message gets even better, as Pace has plans in place for service expansion in some parts of its service area.
Rebounds over the past year in both ridership and the regional sales tax collections that fund Pace combined with a very austere and careful approach to agency finances in recent years have led to the positive outlook for the coming year. "We've worked hard to remain efficient and have made some difficult decisions with respect to reducing service in 2010, and that commitment to live within our means brings us to a favorable situation for 2012," said Pace Chairman of the Board Richard Kwasneski.
Pace's Suburban Service operating budget, which includes fixed route, dial-a-ride and vanpool services, is estimated to be nearly $194.5 million, an increase of approximately 4.8% due largely to anticipated service enhancements. These include two new Call-n-Ride routes in the western suburbs and increased service on area highways and tollways. The nearly $100 million capital program for suburban service is boosted by an influx of state funds for 2012 and includes the purchase of up to 163 fixed route buses, environmental overhaul of diesel engines, and more.
The Regional ADA Paratransit Budget is set at $115 million. Significant ridership growth during 2011 led to cost increases during the year because of the specialized nature of ADA service. Although Pace will work to improve productivity, action may be needed to increase revenue in the future to offset these costs if ridership continues to grow at its present rate. "We will continue to work with the RTA, our advisory committees and the disability community to improve efficiency while maintaining the quality of service that the community has come to expect from us," said Kwasneski.
The preliminary budget serves as an estimate of anticipated expenses and revenues for the coming year. Over the next month, Pace will revise its budget slightly based upon funding marks released earlier in the day by the RTA. These marks are estimates of available funding for the year and are sufficient to meet anticipated expenses when combined with fare revenue and funding from other sources. The revised budget will be presented to the Pace Board in October and released for public review and comment, including budget public hearings scheduled for late October. The Pace Board of Directors will review the public comments received prior to approving the budget in November, at which time it's sent for inclusion in the RTA's final budget, which also includes the agency budgets of CTA and Metra.
SOURCE Pace Suburban Bus Service