New Carlisle council to decide on WestCAT contract Tuesday

Staying with the story

The Springfield News-Sun has followed this story since it was first announced that the New Carlisle City Council was considering cutting the WestCAT service. KEep reading the News-Sun for coverage of the council’s decision.

New Carlisle council members are expected to decide Tuesday whether the city will continue to support WestCAT, a public transportation system in the community.

The new contract with Developmental Disabilities of Clark County, which donated two buses for the program, reportedly calls for the city to contribute about $4,000 this year, down from $5,000 last year.

WestCAT currently averages 1.5 riders per trip, and some city council members say that ridership is too low for officials to continue to financially support it.

Rick Lowrey said at a recent meeting that the city is throwing thousands of dollars “out the window” on the service.

“I said after the first year that was money going out of the tailpipe,” Lowrey has said.

Mayor Lowell McGlothin said he wanted to learn more about the program and ridership from local transportation officials, a bus driver and the perspective of the city manager before making a decision.

“I know that we are going to be committed to $4,000, which works out to less than $1 per person for the city, but I don’t know whether it’s worthwhile continuing it or not because the ridership is not up where it should be after a couple years,” McGlothin said.

Eliminating WestCAT was one of several potential budget cuts council members have discussed as they look to trim between $250,000 to $300,000 from the general fund to avoid ending the year with less than $400 or go into deficit spending. Other recent cuts included trimming the number of deputies it pays for in half.

WestCAT began running two buses throughout western Clark County — including New Carlisle, Park Layne, Enon and Mad River Twp. — in April 2013. It also has stops in Springfield and Fairborn.

The service is funded largely with federal, state and local money, including $5,000 each from New Carlisle, Mad River Twp. and Enon. Riders pay $2 for an adult fare.

Ethan Reynolds, a council member, plans to vote against it.

“It’s a total failure. No one rides it … I just think it’s a total waste of taxpayer money,” he said.

Another council member, John Krabacher, said he’s told other council members that WestCAT simply hasn’t generated enough ridership to continue receiving city funding, especially as the city is working to cutback on spending.

“For two years we’ve tried to offer public transportation and you just can’t make it on one, maybe two riders in a day. It just can’t happen,” said Krabacher, who will not be able to attend Tuesday evening’s meeting.