Wednesday, December 16, 2009

MTA may use surprise $836,000 surplus to repay Metro

Audit discovered surplus year after bus fare hikes, route cuts By Nate Rau • THE TENNESSEAN • December 16, 2009 A little over a year after the Metro Transit Authority was forced to raise rates and cut sparsely used bus routes, the agency has achieved a surprise surplus, which it may use to pay down a decade-old loan from Metro. The $836,000 surplus was discovered after a comprehensive annual audit showed Nashville's public transportation organization was able to trim costs related to fringe benefits and preventive maintenance. The MTA board will vote at its Thursday meeting whether to follow its finance committee's recommendation to use the funds to pay down a $1.6 million Metro loan from the year 2000. Mayor Karl Dean complimented the MTA's management, in particular director Paul Ballard, for its work this year in achieving the surplus. Excellent management "The surplus speaks to the excellent management we have at MTA," Dean said. "Paul Ballard and his staff have been able to cut costs during these difficult economic times, and still enhance the level of transportation services in Nashville with the addition of our new downtown transit station and Bus Rapid Transit. "We need to continue to grow mass transit as our city grows, and I have full confidence in MTA as we move ahead in that area." A surplus was achieved one year after MTA saw record bus ridership in response to skyrocketing fuel costs. Despite the increased ridership, MTA was forced to raise its bus fares and to eliminate its least-used routes.

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