Supervisors Endorse Merger of Victor Valley & Barstow Transit Authorities

(September13) The county board of supervisors this week recommended that the county transportation agency proceed with the merger of the public transportation system currently serving the Victor Valley and the system serving the area surrounding Barstow.
According to Gerry Newcombe, the county’s director of public works, the county’s transportation agency, San Bernardino Associated Governments (known by its acronym, SANBAG) looked into the consolidation of the Victor Valley Transit Authority and the Barstow Area Transit Authority. He said that study determined it would be good for the two districts to consolidate their operations.
“Barstow Area Transit Authority is run under contract by the City of Barstow.,” Newcombe said. “ In addition to demand response (Americans with Disabilities Act-funded) transportation, it runs a total of five routes, three routes within the city and two within the county areas to Hinkley on the west and to Newberry Springs to the east. The two county routes and administration expenses utilize all of the county local transportation funds allocated to the Barstow area by SANBAG, leaving no funds available for county streets and roads.
The Victor Valley Transit Authority,” Newcombe continued, “is a separate transit agency operating under a board of directors with one member appointed from each of the agencies of the joint powers authority and has significantly expanded its routing and efficiency.”
The Victor Valley Transit Authority is a joint powers authority that involves the county, the cities of Hesperia, Adelanto, Victorville and the town of Apple Valley. Like the Barstow Area Transit Authority, the Victor Valley Transit Authority  utilizes Measure I funds, which are derived from a half cent sales tax imposed countywide to provide transportation funding;  2010-2040 Senior and Disabled Transit, State and Federal funding sources for Capital and Operations. The county contribution consists of local transportation funds allocated directly to the transit authority by the San Bernardino Associated Governments.
“In the past few years Victor Valley Transit Authority has re-established a lifeline service to inland valley destinations, started up a highly successful National Training Center commuter route and established Barstow-Victorville link three days a week, and with approval of the latest budget (anticipated September 2013) moving to five days a week,” Newcombe said. “In addition, one of the biggest potential objections to consolidation, Sunday Service (Barstow currently has it and VVTA does not) will be removed as Victor Valley Transit Authority starts Sunday Service October 1, 2013. Victor Valley Transit Authority uses only a portion of the allocated local transit funds  from each joint powers authority county, town and city member, leaving significant percentages of local transportation funds available for county streets and roads.”
According to Newcombe, the study concluded “ Consolidation meets the stated goals expressed by cities, town and the county. Consolidation of Barstow Area Transit and Victor Valley Transit Authority will likely result in reduced administrative costs to cities, town and the county.  Consolidation is likely to result in improved transit services in the High Desert. By adopting the findings, San Bernardino Associated Governments will be able to initiate the process whereby consolidation of transit agencies either through a new or an amended and expanded Joint Powers Authority may be achieved in an open and transparent manner.”
Newcombe said that consolidation is projected to result in an annual net savings to county local transportation funds of approximately $60,000 by combining administrative expenditures of two transit agencies into one.”
At the same time, Newcombe said the study determined “Consolidation is of no net benefit to the city of Needles.”
Based upon Newcombe’s recommendation, the board of supervisors voted to pass along the consolidation recommendation to the 29-member SANBAG board, which consists of all five members of the board of supervisors plus one representative from the city councils of each of the county’s 24 cities.

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