Transit authority's coupon prices fall back to $3

Friday, January 2, 2009

Tom Mogelnicki kept his promise to drop coupon prices for seniors taking trips on Cape Girardeau County Transit Authority vehicles.

The coupon cost fell to $3 on New Year's Day.

Mogelnicki, the transit authority's executive director, raised the price to $5 per coupon after the subsidy money ran out in October. The most a ride costs without a coupon is $15 from one side of the county to the other.

"Seniors can ride anywhere in the county for $3," Mogelnicki said.

But they must buy coupons from the transit authority, which uses a grant from Cape Girardeau County Senior Citizens' Services Fund Board to reduce the out-of-pocket cost to riders. In 2008, the transit authority initial applied $40,000 of the annual $100,000 grant to the senior rides and the remainder for operation expenses. But in July, after warning that the coupons were so popular the money had run out, Mogelnicki asked for, and received, an additional $15,000.

"This year we are applying all of the $100,000 to the coupon program," he said.

Mogelnicki limited the number of coupons a senior could buy midway through 2008 in an effort to prolong the availability of the discounted rides through the year. In October, he announced coupon prices would rise temporarily to $5 and he would use operation funds to pay the remainder. He said coupons purchased for $3 would continue to be honored.

Senior coupons for the transit authority have no expiration date. The coupons are sold at the transit authority office 937 Broadway, Suite 200, and on a monthly basis at the senior center in Jackson.

"We had previously sold them at the senior center in Cape, but we never sold but three or four," he said.

Senior riders are required to show proof of age before buying coupons, he said. Once a rider registers for the discount program, coupons can be ordered by mail. he said.

Two senior citizens who rely on the transit authority for rides said Thursday they were happy the rates have dropped.

Mogelnicki's 2009 budget indicates a negative balance of $62,498, with more than $1.58 million in expenses. He anticipates $1.55 million in revenue this year from a combination of grants, subsidies and fares.

Mogelnicki said the transit authority's 2008 budget was hurt by a spike in gas prices over the summer. He said this year's budget includes a projection of an average per-gallon price of gas at under $3.

Cape Girardeau County will give the transit authority $70,000 for 2009 -- the same amount as 2008 -- with a stipulation the money is divided between a $30,000 debt retirement plan and $40,000 for the general operating fund.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

388-3646

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