Will Mooresville continue to help fund commuter buses to Charlotte or ditch the service, as Lincoln County recently did?
The Mooresville Board of Commissioners on Monday will consider approving a $25,207.50 contract with the Charlotte Area Transit System to continue the 83X Mooresville Express bus until Dec. 31.
Town planners and commissioner Mitch Abraham recommend the board approve the contract, which would call for continuing to provide three buses in the morning and evening peak commuting hours. Buses are important to relieving traffic congestion and improving air quality, they said.
Abraham said the town is subsidizing each of the average 63 daily riders at least $1,300 per year. But "there's a whole bigger picture" involving regional air quality and reducing traffic, he said.
Mooresville has been active in such regional transportation efforts as the Charlotte Regional Alliance for Transportation, the Interstate 77 Task Force and Charlotte Regional Fast Lanes Study, Mooresville Transportation Planner Neil Burke said.
Abraham said Mooresville also has worked hard to get rail extended to the area for commuters someday, so it's important that CATS knows the town backs its mass transit efforts.
Mooresville's message to CATS and its policy board, the Metropolitan Transit Commission, should be, "'We're sticking with you in hard times, while Lincoln County (and) other places let you go,'" Abraham said. He is Mooresville's representative on the transit commission.
The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners voted March 15 against paying the $50,804 CATS wants to renew the 88X route service for the fiscal year beginning July 1. That would be an increase of 18.6percent, or $7,969.
"While having a commuter transit line available is a positive, I am not convinced that it merits a $50,804 annual taxpayer subsidy to benefit the equivalent of 43 daily commuters," Lincoln County Manager George Wood wrote in recommending the service be discontinued.
CATS has a 50-50 funding deal with each outlying municipality where it runs buses, so service ends if a county or town board opts against contributing its share, CATS spokeswoman Jean Leier said.
Mooresville is also ready to bid a $2million public transit park-and-ride project at the Legacy Village development near the Lowe's Companies Inc. national headquarters in Mount Mourne. A federal air-quality grant would fully reimburse the town.
If the commissioners were to stop funding the bus, "then we would have a Legacy Village parking deck as a monument" to the decision, commissioner Rhett Dusenbury told fellow commissioners at an April 1 "pre-agenda" meeting.
Continuing the 83X "shows we're trying to do something to benefit air quality as a region," Burke said at the meeting.
Town commissioners are to decide on the contract at their meeting 6 p.m. Monday at Town Hall, 413 N. Main St.