What is CCTA and who pays to keep it running? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

What is CCTA and who pays to keep it running?

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Striking Chittenden County Transportation Agency drivers are set to meet with management and a mediator this weekend to try to make a deal. Some of the contract debate centers on compensation.

The $1.25 fare you pay to ride the bus is certainly helping to keep CCTA running, but rider fares are not their only source of revenue.

The bus drivers continue their strike due to what they call unfair treatment by management, but what exactly is CCTA and who pays to keep it running?

CCTA says many people mistakenly believe they are a nonprofit organization.

"The way we operate is really with a public service mission and so that often makes most people think we have a nonprofit status," said Meredith Birkett, CCTA Director of Service Development.

But it is in fact a municipal corporation funded by multiple entities. Last year, CCTA's urban operating expenses totaled more than $14.5 million.

Half of that came from federal funding, 17 percent from local towns and counties served by CCTA, 16 percent came from passenger fares, 15 percent from the state and 2 percent from miscellaneous revenue.

And here's what each town pays for CCTA service. Burlington pays the most at almost $1.5 million. But about $480,000 of that is from the Burlington School District which uses CCTA buses, rather than school busses for its students. Hinesburg pays the least at about $36,000. The amount each town pays is based on the number of hours of service operated in each community.

Brian Lee, a transportation research expert from the University of Vermont, says that this funding breakdown is typical for most public transportation systems.

"The expectations from the public may be that a public transit service should be able to fund itself, and that's referring to the fare box recovery, how much people who are using transit are actually paying for it," said Lee.

A regular CCTA bus fare is $1.25, and it makes more than 2.5 million fixed trips a year. Lee says those fares are just not enough to cover the $14 million budget.

"There's virtually no system in the world which the fare box can actually cover the expenses," said Lee.

Here's how CCTA spends about half of its $14.5 million budget on salaries and benefits. More than $3 million goes toward driver's salaries; about $1.6 million goes toward administration salaries, about $800,000 for mechanics and more than $2 million for benefits.

The union has submitted a written proposal to CCTA, which they are currently reviewing. They say they need time to look it over before meeting, but say it will be sometime this weekend.

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