Routed in Change 

MATA plans to study bus routes.

MATA is asking for directions.

As part of the upcoming short-range transit plan, the local transportation agency plans to ask community members what "direction MATA should go in the next five years," said MATA head Will Hudson.

The $300,000 transportation study will look at routing structure, including the possibility of a grid system, as well as system's coverage and funding.

On November 9th, MATA staff and board members will hear from two consulting firms, Perteet, Inc., out of Washington state and San Francisco's Nelson\Nygaard. The board is expected to approve the selected consulting firm at its November 22nd meeting.

At the October board meeting last week, Hudson said the future was not bright for MATA, and he didn't know how they would survive the next three to five years.

"We talk about this every day," he said. "How are we going to survive this downturn in the economy?"

MATA is currently projecting a $4.5 million deficit for the year. Hudson said that without a change to the revenue stream, they would have to consider another service reduction.

Board members are eager to see what the study will recommend.

"I'm not on the board to deal with fleet shampoo. I think routes are the most important thing MATA can do," said board member John Vergos. "We've got to increase revenue. I don't know how we're going to do that without increasing ridership."

Board member Chooch Pickard agreed.

"There's a huge untapped population we are not serving: People who have money and don't have to ride MATA but choose to," Pickard said. "I think we can take advantage of the fact that we are in a down economy."

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