by Diana Haecker ~ June 11th, 2010
A request for two new vehicles for the Sunshine Transit system was spared from Governor Sean Parnell’s red pen slashing through the state budget.The Sunshine Transit coalition asked for a total of $70,000 to purchase two new vans and got it.
Currently, the transit system consists of two old vans donated to the cause of providing affordable transportation from downtown to the clinic and Cubbies. But frequent repairs continue to strain the operating budget.
Sharon Montagnino with the Sunshine Transit coalition said that although more people use the transit to get around and even so ticket sales are up, the revenue is not anywhere near paying for the full operational cost of roughly $4,000 to $5,000 per month. Latest numbers show that the Sunshine transit has 20 to 30 riders daily.
Operational costs are supplemented with grants, the latest being a grant from United Way.
Montagnino was surprised and happy to see the state money appropriated and said that the organization’s board and the drivers now need to sit down and discuss what type of vehicle would make the most sense to purchase.
A separate line item in the state budget relating to the Sunshine Transit was a $15,000 appropriation to start a meals-on-wheels program with the Upper Susitna Senior Center. The intent of this request was to get the program off the ground by delivering meals-on-wheels once or twice a week to seniors. In order to make this happen, the coalition plans to sit down with the Upper Susitna Seniors leadership and to gather information from lower valley meals-on-wheels providers.