Lextran Budget Constraints Remain Despite Ridership Increase
Officials with Lexington's mass transit system have detailed budget figures before city leaders. The bus system has grown substantially in dollars and services.
Since a special property tax was enacted ten years ago, Lextran's budget has gone from nine million dollars to 24 million. Lextran General Manager Rocky Burke says buses have been added along with late night and weekend service. Plus, the mass transit manager says there are always requests for new routes. "It's not necessary always where people are living, but where they want to go. I'll give you a prime example, with the new Costco being built. We've put a shelter out there now and the route is serving that area," said Burke.
Bus fares for Lexington's mass transit system remain far below the national average. Burke says most of the funding for Lextran comes from the special property tax. He says bus fares comprise less than ten percent of the money used to run the system. "You know, our fare box recovery rate is only about nine percent and industry average is somewhere between 15 and 20. The reason that ours is so low is because of that low fare that we charge," said Burke. "So, that's not to say that we're planning a fare increase any time soon, but I just make that known that it's well below the industry standard and we struggle every year to balance our budget."
Ridership for Lexington's mass transit system is on the uptick. Burke says a slight ridership increase occurred over the past year. "For the past 12 months, we up about a half percent and again, I think, a lot of that would have been higher, if it hadn't been for the tough winter we had, but last summer we had some really good numbers," explained Burke.
Burke says Lextran has added buses and plans to move more into compressed natural gas powered vehicles.