Mix 106.5

Mix 106.5

Friday, November 8, 2019

Financially, SMART is in precarious spot.

Hanover | by Robyn Garvey  

Transit program does not have sufficient reserve funds to cover operational costs.

The Saugeen Mobility and Regional Transit's quarter operational report is in, and the news is not great.

Financially, SMART is in precarious spot.

Board of Director Warren Dickert says the MTO Gas Tax reserve account does not have sufficient funds to cover operational costs for the remainder of the 2019.

In fact, SMART is projecting a 100 thousand dollar operational deficit by year end.

This has been an ongoing battle for the specialized public transit service, as last year SMART ended the year with a 140 thousand dollar operational deficit

SMART Manager Roger Cook says municipal contributions remain far below where they need to be to keep SMART on a stable financial footing and must increase over the next 3 years in order for there to be capital funds after current Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program funding has ended.

Ideally, he says municipal funding needs to rise by about $1.60 per capita in each of the next three years to rebuild SMART's reserve account and stabilize its finances.

He says failure to address this challenge will have to result in service cuts to SMART clients.

Cook says on average municipalities spend $7.99 per capita for SMART, he has long said this number needs to be $13 per capita.

Currently municipal contributions to SMART equates to 660 thousand dollars this year, and close to  83 thousand dollars is raised through ridership fees.

Overall ridership is up by 1 percent just shy of 26 thousand rides in 2018 and overall member area ridership is up almost 5%.

In 2018 SMART provided just over 36 thousand rides to over 11 hundred clients.

There were no capital purchases in 2019 despite the need for update vehicle,s as SMART is hopefully awaiting Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program funding in 2020 to purchase new vehicles for its aging fleet.

The not-for-profit disability transit service serves 9 municipalities in Bruce and Grey Counties.

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