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Merced bus system soon to be under new management

POSTED November 27, 2009 11:54 p.m.
Merced County Transit will have new management — better representing the entire county — starting July 1, 2010.
The regional Transit Joint Powers Authority, an 11-member group comprised of Merced’s five supervisors and an elected official from each of the county’s six cities, will assume management oversight for THE BUS. Members of the authority voted to take control of management on Tuesday.
Merced County Public Works has overseen bus service for both fixed routes and dial-a-ride during the past 14 years.
“THE BUS has accomplished much over the past years,” said Transit Authority Chair and Merced County Supervisor John Pedrozo.  He went on to state that ridership, service levels, bus counts, and the number of busses using compressed natural gas have all increased.
The change in management was spurred by changes in transit requirements, according to an Authority press release. The decision followed months of discussion between Public Works Director Paul Fillebrown, Transportation Manager Rod Ghearing, and Merced County Association of Governments Executive Director Jesse Brown, the press release said. They came to the conclusion that, “a more streamlined transit management organization would be possible by moving management to a regional board rather than continue with just one local government as manager,” according to the press release.
Current transit staff members will be largely unaffected by the shift in management, as they will maintain their current salaries and retirement benefits through the transition to employees of the Transit JPA next year. The JPA will directly contract for bus drivers and dispatchers, transit vehicle maintenance, and will lease the current transit office site from the County of Merced.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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