Wichita staff is proposing to tap a reserve fund for $700,000 to keep city buses rolling on Saturdays for the next two years — while raising fares 50 cents to $1.75 a ride.
That alternative replaces an earlier recommendation by City Manager Robert Layton to raise the fares and cut Saturday service to reduce the cost of operating the system. The earlier plan provoked a strong reaction from bus users who said it would keep them from shopping and running necessary errands on the weekend.
The new proposal was announced today by budget officer Mark Manning at a news conference to distribute paper copies of the city’s annual budget to the press.
The plan for preserving Saturday service will need the council’s OK to tap into the city’s “permanent reserve fund.”
The $1.8 million was set aside by the council starting in 2008 and is not part of the city’s $22.6 million general fund reserve, Manning said.
If it can get through the next two years, expected federal grant funding should put the transit system on firmer financial footing, Manning said.