RIVERBANK -- The Riverbank Oakdale Transit Authority is considering having Stanislaus County take over its dial-a-ride service.
The ROTA board the members of which come from the city councils of both cities voted 3-0 recently to explore having Stanislaus Regional Transit assume its operations.
ROTA, which once operated fixed-route buses, now operates six dial-a-ride buses daily during peak times. But ROTA has not been able to meet financial targets.
"I don't think we want to get out of it, but we can't afford it," Riverbank Councilman and ROTA board member Richard O'Brien said.
He added that he would not be in favor of having the county take over the dial-a-ride system unless it provides at least the same level of service.
Riverbank and Oakdale formed ROTA in 1993, but they do not provide its $546,000 in annual funding. ROTA's budget comes from state transportation funds and fare box revenue from riders.
The state requires ROTA to collect at least 10 percent of its operating costs through fares, but it has not met that target for several years and faces financial penalties from the state for not doing so.
ROTA Transit Coordinator Donna Bridges said her agency started its 2011-12 fiscal year June 1, 2011, with fare box revenues of 6.5 percent and they now are 9.29 percent.
But she said the increase is misleading because it reflects the generosity of community groups and others who buy dial-a-ride tickets and donate them to ROTA for seniors and others who cannot afford them.
"If you took all of these Band-Aids off, we'd be nowhere near 10 percent," Bridges said.
Eunice Lovi, Stanislaus County's transit manager, made a presentation at the meeting at which board members voted to explore having the county take over operations.
Riverbank City Manager Jill Anderson stressed that nothing has been decided and the next step is for the county Board of Supervisors to approve exploring the takeover. She said both city councils eventually would have to approve deals authorizing the county to provide transit services and to dissolve ROTA.
As soon as early 2013
Anderson said the county could provide transit services for Oakdale and Riverbank as soon as early 2013 if the proposal moves forward.
Bridges said ROTA operates as many as three dial-a-ride buses in the morning and three in afternoon and serves 1,500 riders a month.
Tickets are $2 for the public and $1.50 for seniors, the disabled and students.
Storer Transit provides the service on behalf of ROTA.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2316.