IVAG approves transit plan, fund allocation

May 24, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

The Imperial Valley Association of Governments regional council voted Wednesday to approve the 2001-02 transit financing plan and related allocation of funds.

A total of $4 million is available for local transportation. The breakdown is: Brawley, $651,911; Calexico, $810,233; Calipatria, $102,268; El Centro, $1.14 million; Holtville, $165,212; Imperial, $242,417; Westmorland, $53,195; and the county $873,929.

Other expenditures include $119,327 for Brawley Dial-A-Ride, $181,361 for Calexico Dial-A-Ride, $116,000 for El Centro Dial-A-Ride, $67,720 for Imperial Dial-A-Ride, $90,500 for West Shores Dial-A-Ride, $1.13 million for the Imperial Valley transit system, $94,000 for Medexpress, $438,549 for American With Disabilities paratransit and $25,000 for shelters and benches.

In other business, the council was again presented with a proposal to build a maintenance facility for compressed natural gas vehicles adjacent to the county's CNG refueling station on Commercial Avenue at Fairfield Drive in El Centro.


The cost for the proposal — which was not acted on — is about $420,000, according to Richard Cromwell, general manager and chief executive officer of SunLine Transit Agency.

"I'm proposing this as something you need to do," Cromwell told the council. "We've done this in conjunction with the county."

Cromwell was asked why SunLine has given notice that it intends to terminate its administrative contract with the county to oversee local bus service while making the proposal for the CNG maintenance facility.

"Regardless of whether we terminate the contract you will want to have this maintenance facility," he said.

Cromwell said he has spoken with the area's congressional leaders, who have agreed to seek federal funding for the maintenance facility's construction.

On the issue of SunLine's contract with the county, Cromwell said SunLine — a public agency made up of nine cities and Riverside County in the Coachella Valley area — was asked by Imperial County officials to help the county three years ago when the county found itself on the verge of losing its transit system.

He said SunLine then turned to Laidlaw Transit Services to fill the void, which it managed to do in 45 days with 10 buses.

"Our feeling is, why need a middle man now?" Cromwell said earlier in the day. "Everything's working smoothly."

Irwin Rosenberg, area vice president for Laidlaw, said his company is well-prepared to assume the administration of the contract and the company has had discussions with the county on the issue and that with the advanced notice given by SunLine, there is sufficient time for the nation's largest provider of contract transportation to take over.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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