Unmet Transit Needs
As the administrator of Transportation Development Act (TDA) funds for Inyo County, the Inyo County Local Transportation Commission (LTC) is charged with performing the annual Unmet Transit Needs process. The purpose of this process is to ensure that all unmet transit needs that are reasonable to meet are met before funds are expended for non-transit uses, such as streets and roads. The Social Services Transportation Advisory Council (SSTAC) kicked off the annual Unmet Transit Needs process at a meeting on February 22, 2013 at the Caltrans District 9 office in Bishop. The SSTAC meeting is the first step in deciding disbursement of the Transportation Development Act funds. Results and ideas from the SSTAC meeting are scheduled to be presented to the Inyo County LTC in April in Independence and May in Bishop. Additional public input is sought at the Unmet Transit Needs hearings. The Inyo County LTC adopted its 2013 Unmet Transit Needs findings at its June 19, 2013 meeting in Bishop.
The Inyo County LTC has not allocated TDA funds to the County and the City for local streets and roads for at least ten years. TDA revenues have leveled out the past few years. Thus, the Eastern Sierra Transit Authority might have to cut an existing service to serve a newly identified unmet transit need. ESTA has been able to fine tune their system to address some of the identified transit needs in the last several years. The LTC still holds an unmet transit needs workshops and a hearing to gauge the health of the transit system and to further refine the use of transit funds. Public input from transit users and the transit-dependent is an effective way to identify changing transit needs. Increased operational costs created by high gasoline prices coupled with declining Transportation Development revenues will make it challenging for the Eastern Sierra Transit Authority to maintain existing services in the coming 2013/2014 budget year.
It is helpful to review the definitions of “Unmet Transit Need” and “Reasonable to Meet”. These definitions serve as barometers of the need for new or changed transit services.
An Unmet Transit Need exists if an individual or individuals of any age or physical condition are unable to transport themselves from one location to another. An Unmet Transit Need is, at a minimum, those public transportation or specialized transportation services that are identified in the Regional Transportation Plan and that have not been implemented or funded.
A documented Unmet Transit Need is reasonable to meet if:
A service can be provided which meets a minimum farebox ratio of 10% of operating costs; and
a) It is transit service for essential intra-county purposes which are defined as medical or dental services, shopping, employment, personal business, or social service appointments; or,
b) It is a transit service for essential inter-county purposes which are defined as medical or dental services or social service appointments not available in this county or the out-of-county destination is the closest location where the services are available to the origin of the trip; and, The origin and/or designation of the trip is within two miles of the established area of operation of cohesive community.