Bloomfield council tables bus route action

Joshua Kellogg
A Red Apple Transit bus makes a stop on Sept. 20 on South First Street in Bloomfield. The City Council will consider a new contract with Red Apple Transit at its Monday meeting.

BLOOMFIELD — The Bloomfield City Council tabled discussion and possible action on reinstituting the Red Apple Transit route during its meeting tonight.

City Manager Eric Strahl said councilors need to develop a consensus on how to handle the city's budget before taking any action on the Red Apple Transit subsidy. A loss in revenue from gross receipts taxes has prompted the city to make budget cuts, including a 3.46 percent pay cut for city employees.

“It makes the most sense to table any action on Red Apple, and we’ll deal with that as part of the larger issues,” Strahl said during the meeting.

The route was canceled when Bloomfield ended its contract with Farmington for bus services. Sept. 30 was the last day of service for the route between Bloomfield and Farmington.

Two additional options were prepared for councilors to discuss in a report by Farmington Transit Administrator Andrew Montoya.

The options would reduce service runs from three to two, with service only in the morning and evening. The midday run would be canceled.

Two runs on Monday through Saturday would cost about $8,000 a year. A Monday through Friday option would cost about $7,000.

The old route cost Bloomfield about $12,000 annually.

The ridership of the old route from October 2015 to September 2016 was 5,340 riders, which is about 5 percent of the total ridership for Red Apple Transit.

Also during tonight's meeting, councilors approved sending a request to the New Mexico Department of Transportation to extend a grant that funds improvements to the East Blanco Bridge.

The $1.5 million project will replace the bridge on East Blanco Boulevard and then rebuild the road around the bridge, said Jason Thomas, the city engineer and public works director.

The NMDOT grant is worth about $280,000 and expires on Dec. 31. Extending the grant would give Bloomfield additional time to complete the environmental review, engineering work and find additional funding.

Thomas said Bloomfield needs to secure about $800,000 in additional funding for the project.

A 1.8 percent rate increase was also approved for residential and commercial trash services through Transit Waste.

Strahl said in a memo that the increase in rates would raise the current monthly charge for a residential trash cart from $10.39 to $10.58.

The last rate adjustment was in 2015 when Bloomfield negotiated a slightly lower rate after discovering the city of Aztec’s trash rates were lower, according to the memo.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.