PARKERSBURG - Residents of Vienna and Parkersburg approved two more years of funding for local mass transit by a comfortable margin.
With all 84 precincts reporting Tuesday night, voters approved a special levy for the continued funding of the Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority, which operates the Easy Rider bus system.
In Parkersburg, the MOVTA received 3,600 votes (74.8 percent) in favor of the levy and 1,212 (25.2 percent) against, according to unofficial results.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Tim Thomas, transit manager, waits at the Wood County Courthouse for election results Tuesday night.
The city of Vienna held a special election for the levy despite canceling the city's primary. The MOVTA received 1,715 votes (75.4 percent) in favor of the levy and 560 votes (24.6 percent) against.
The levy requires 60 percent approval to pass.
The renewal of funding will take effect in fiscal years 2014 and 2015. The special levy will generate up to $745,125 from Vienna and up to $1,738,650 from Parkersburg.
Transit authority general manager Tim Thomas said he was pleased with the results.
"We want to thank all the voters for their continued support," he said. "Public transit is vital to this region. Our buses take people to daycare, jobs, grocery stores, doctors' offices, stores. If there is transit in your community, the economy thrives."
In the past two years, daily ridership has increased significantly, with around 1,500 bus riders every day. Transit officials credit the ridership increase with the 30-minute schedule system implemented in 2009.
New developments are taking place at MOVTA, with a $3.3 million maintenance facility in the works, as well as route expansions and the purchase of new Easy Rider buses to replace several in the fleet with mechanical problems.
"We're looking forward to many more years of service," Thomas said.
Easy Rider has operated in Parkersburg and Vienna for 36 years. The main offices, parking garage and transportation hub are at Juliana and Sixth streets.
In previous years, the levy has passed in both Parkersburg and Vienna by a comfortable margin.
The transit authority relies heavily on federal funding and the local levies. The authority received $775,000 in federal funding this year and bus fares raised $285,000. For fiscal year 2013, the authority estimates a general operating budget of $3.3 million.
Levy rates are as follows:
Owners of Class II residential properties in Parkersburg will pay $.1132 per $100 of their property's value. Owners of Class IV property in Parkersburg will pay $.2264 per $100 of their property's value.
In Vienna, owners of Class II properties will pay $.1120 per $100 of their property's value. Owners of Class IV property will pay $.2239 per $100 of their property's value.