PART reaches out to city for funding

Jan. 19, 2013 @ 06:40 PM

The region’s mass transit agency is looking for possible funding assistance from High Point in its efforts to beef up its service in the city.
The Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation has requested $250,000 in federal funds that may be allocated to High Point some time in the next couple of months. The money would be used to restore some of the PART Express bus trips in and around the Eastchester Drive corridor that were cut last summer as a cost-savings measure after the agency’s funding was reduced.
There is uncertainty about whether the money will be available, but, according to PART Executive Director Scott Rhine, High Point could receive $500,000 more of a type of Federal Transit Administration funding than it received last year.
Rhine said PART is asking for half of this potential funding to restore peak-hour bus trips between its hub in Greensboro and downtown High Point.
Facing a budget shortfall, PART has had to cut bus trips and raise fares during the past two years. PART cut three hours of bus trips per day from its Eastchester Drive route last July.
“We know that need is still out there, and we’d like to put those back in place,” Rhine said.
The funding also would help support its shuttle service to various business locations around the PART hub. PART’s main funding sources for its operating expenses are rental-car tax revenue and fare-box revenues from its buses. PART gets some federal funding for capital expenses, and is seeking more of this to restore bus services that have been cut.
In addition to High Point, PART has made similar funding requests to Greensboro and Winston-Salem.
“If there are funds available, we could use them. We’re eligible for them,” Rhine said. “We’re trying to use federal funds to help stabilize our public service.”
He stressed that the agency is not looking to take away any funding from the city’s Hi tran bus system and said he understands if the city receives the funding and has a need for it, High Point will use it.
City Transportation Director Mark McDonald said if any funding is made available to High Point, the city would have to match it with its own funds. It’s unclear at this point, he said, what the city’s needs might be for the funding and whether any matching funds would be available. | 888-3531