Transit agency learns it won’t receive final $4 million disbursement from state

The Metro transit agency recently received word that it would not receive the final disbursement of emergency funding that helped restore service cuts made a year ago.

Missouri Budget Director Linda Luebbering announced last week that due to ongoing state budget cuts, Metro would not receive the final $4 million payment of the $12 million emergency appropriation that was approved for the agency last year.

That money helped the agency in August bring back half of the 30 percent of light-rail, bus and van service it cut in March 2009 to address its own budget shortfall.

Last week’s announcement came one week after Metro unveiled its plan to further restore eliminated transit service, which was made possible by county voters’ passage April 6 of Proposition A, a half-cent sales tax increase.

Prop A revenue will not be available to Metro until this fall, according to agency officials. However, the $4 million withholding from the state will not affect the new restoration plan, Metro President and CEO Bob Baer stated in a news release.

“We understand that the state’s precarious budget situation has put many important services at risk, and that public transit is among them,” Baer stated. “We will not delay service restoration. The region’s citizens have clearly demonstrated their desire to preserve and grow public transit options across our community, and we will deliver.”

To fulfill that pledge, Metro is considering several options, including leaving open positions vacant that aren’t required for service restoration, delaying capital projects and accepting a $1.8 million loan St. Clair County in Illinois offered the agency in 2009. That money was turned down after Metro received the $12 million appropriation from the state, according to the release.