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Council talks of merging routes

Tabi Jozwick

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The Macomb City Council voted to approve the McDonough County Public Transportation (MCPT) budget for FY 18 at Monday’s City Council meeting.

Alderman at-Large Dennis Moon preceded over the City Council meeting instead of Macomb Mayor Mike Inman, who was watching his daughter play in the Illinois Elementary School Association 7th grade Class 4A Girls Volleyball State Tournament in Normal, Illinois.

“I had a good meeting two weeks ago with the City Transit Committee,” said McDonough County Public Transportation Director Nathan Cobb. “We discussed the financial situation we’re currently in.”

Cobb said that due to the lack of funds from the state and declined enrollment at Western Illinois University that MCPT might have to make cuts.

“I don’t think we’re going to be able to avoid it because we got to lower our budget,” Cobb said. “What we’re operating currently, we’re going to cut about $150,000 out of our budget, so that’s probably the equivalent of one route when we make cuts on fuel and other items where I can make adjustments within the budget that aren’t dealing directly with the bus barn.”

Cobb said that one way to make cuts in the budget was to make changes in the Go West fixed route system.

“We’re going to try to combine a route that kind of duplicates another route where they do similar things or go down the same street,” Cobb said. “It’s something that people will have to get used to, but it’ll save us money.”

Cobb said that under the route combination method, that routes 15 and 17 were being considered to be combined into a single route.

“We got four of five different options,” Cobb said. “We’re probably going to take little bits of different (routes) and try to shrink them down instead of eliminating an entire route.”

Cobb said that another possibility was to have one bus to service each quadrant of Macomb with a route connecting Western’s campus to the municipal routes.

“Right now, we have six routes on the municipal routes and we talk about probably going down to five,” Cobb said. “One will still be there to connect the campus to the city, which would be the northwest quadrant.”

Cobb said that the plan to cut down the municipal routes from six to five would result in the combination of routes 14 and 16 into a single route.

“If you have already noticed, we already combined some of them,” Cobb said. “They’re actually one route, but when they switch over to city center, they turn into another route. We may do that with another one too. We’re kind of looking over our options now since this won’t take effect until later this summer.”

Cobb said that people with suggestions to the Go West routes could contact MCPT at 309-837- 7433 or attend the public hearing at city hall later this month.

In related business, the City Council also approved the application for the FY 18 public transportation financial assistance under Section 5311 grant agreement, the terms and conditions of the special warranty as part of the application for Section 5311 application and the Federal Transit Administration FY 17 certifications and assurances.

In unfinished business, the City Council voted to approve a six-month extension to the current contract with Waste Management and a new five-year contract starting on Nov. 1, 2017 with a 1.75 percent increase each year.

The City Council also approved for the spring “no sticker required” yard waste cleanup from March 20 to April 27 and the city-wide cleanup from May 15 to May 18, with the second cleanup in the northwest quadrant on May 22.

The City Council was able to reappoint Annette Carper and Laura Leezer to the MacombPlanning Commission and Brandon Nelson to the Equal Opportunity Fair Housing Commission.

The City Council will have their Committee of the Whole meeting on March 13 at 5:00 p.m. in the City Council chambers.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Council talks of merging routes