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County transit authority asks for more cash

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The Yamhill County Transit Area is asking for all cities in the county, including Newberg, to boost its funding in the coming year in order help with plans to acquire six new buses

The Yamhill County Transit Area is asking for all cities in the county, including Newberg, to boost its funding in the coming year in order help with plans to acquire six new buses.

In particular, the countywide transit authority is requesting Newberg allocate just under $23,000 in the next budget year beginning in July — about $5,000 more than usual — plus increase its contribution by 5 percent every year going forward.

"We believe there is a strong need for public transportation services throughout Yamhill County and we hope you will decide to make this very important contribution to ensure YCTA can continue to provide services in Newberg and throughout the county," states a letter from YCTA Transit Manager Cynthia Thompson.

Thompson attended Newberg's City Council meeting May 2, spending about an hour giving the council an update and answering questions.

In the presentation, Thompson gave an update on transit and summarized the organization's offerings, including commuter routes from McMinnville to Grand Ronde, Salem, Tigard and Hillsboro as well as two fixed routes in Newberg.

Last year, YCTA provided a total of just more than 24,000 rides and nearly 6,500 hours of local service in Newberg at a cost about $277,500, according to the letter from Thompson to City Manager Joe Hannan outlining the funding request.

Including YCTA's estimate that about 10 percent of the riders on the 44 commuter route from McMinnville to Tigard are picked up in Newberg, those estimates rise to 32,600 rides and 7,100 services at a cost of $306,400 the letter states.

The city of Newberg contributes $18,000 per year, which is the amount listed in the proposed budget going through committee at this time.

The request for additional funding this year stems from $1.6 million in grants that will allow YCTA to buy six new buses, but that is contingent on YCTA putting up about $196,800 in matching funds. While the transit service has secured $150,000 of those funds, it is requesting communities throughout the county help with the additional $47,000.

Overall, cities made up about 3 percent the YCTA's revenue last year.

In addition, Thompson told the council that YCTA began a 12- to 18-month process to revamp its transit development plan in February that will involve focus groups and surveys throughout the county and in Newberg.

"We really do need to know what the community wants, what does Newberg need … and maybe I'm putting too much faith in the planning process, but I really do think that we're going to learn a lot," Thompson said.

Numerous councilors voiced their support for plans to survey Newberg riders on their use but also plans to survey non-riders on how the transit system could benefit them as part of the process to developing the new plan.

Councilors also discussed the problems YCTA might be having with the construction along Springbrook Road.