Census can affect city transit - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Census can affect city transit

Ben Briscoe
NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, TX - There are new concerns about the future of a vital city service. Just after one sigh of relief, Amarillo's public transportation has another reason to fear their budget being cut almost in half.

We've told you before that if Amarillo tops 200,000 people in the census, we'd loose the Federal money meant to go to public transportation systems in smaller communities.

But we're learning that it's more than just Amarillo's population alone that could prompt a huge blow to the riders here.

About 2,000 people depend on the bus system in Amarillo every day, like Brenda Kissell. "I don't know what I would do without the buses. I really don't."

So it was good news for them Monday when census insiders said Amarillo would probably fall just short of mark that would cut off Federal funding.

But just because the city won't hit 200,000, the buses aren't clear yet. When you add the population of Bushland, and canyon, and all the other local cities - you can easily top that number. That's what happened to Lubbock in the last census.

"Lubbock is in a unique situation where they have Tech. So they have funding from the Tech students. Everyone has to pay a public transportation fee. In Amarillo, we don't have that here," says Judy Phelps, City Transit General Manager.

That would leave the city with about four years to come up with another source of funding or cut back buses dramatically.

"That would be terrible because we need a bus transportation in Amarillo. Because I don't see how people would get to work on time or anything without the bus," says Phelps.

There is still a slight possibility that those outlying cities won't be included in the metro area totals.

That final decision will be made by the budget office at the White House. They have not returned our requests for comment today.

But we should know more when the census's final report comes out by December 31.



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