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      CMRTA works to stabilize the future of public transportation

      COLUMBIA (WACH) - The Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (CMRTA) met with community leaders Tuesday to announce its new approach to stabilizing the future of public transportation in the Midlands.

      The CMRTA held the press conference to announce a new Balance Budget Service Implementation Plan, which allows the authority to erase a $3.6 million deficit.

      â??Today is a momentous day not just for the CMRTA, but for the Midlands,â?? said CMRTA board chair, Brian DeQuincey Newman.

      According to CMRTA Executive Director Dr. Robert Schneider, one of the ways they plan to erase the deficit is by saving $500,000 a year by eliminating and consolidating routes. Routes 36A and 36B, Route 35 from Columbia Mall to Sandhills, and Route 15B will be eliminated. Routes 3, 8, 11, and 12 will be consolidated. All of the cuts will be effective, pending approval by the CMRTA, May 14.

      Schneider says the new plan allows CMRTA to achieve financial stability based on current resources while also giving riders dependable core service.

      â??Over the past several months, the CMRTAâ??s board of directors and staff has worked to evaluate the system to determine how to best streamline service and balance the budget while minimizing the impact on riders,â?? said Schneider.

      The authority has launched at $3.50 All Day pass for all riders with hopes that it will bring more riders.

      Authorities say they are also exploring smaller and greener vehicles.

      The plan released today has been amended from the original plan.

      The new plan will avoid a mid-day shutdown of services, keep buses running until 7:30 p.m. instead of 6:45 p.m., and continue offering service on Saturday.