Mesa could save more than $1 million by cutting a number of transit options, including limiting Dial-A-Ride pick-ups and cutting bus routes.
Those options will be discussed Thursday as the City Council grapples with a $62 million budget shortfall over the next 19 months.
The main proposed cutback - based on a recommendation from a 2007 Valley Metro study - is to limit Dial-A-Ride service to picking up and dropping off residents who live within three-quarters of a mile of a regular bus service area. The city is focusing on providing service to areas with the highest demand at a time of economic unrest, Mesa's deputy transportation director Mike James said Tuesday.
James said Mesa would retain lower-cost alternatives, such as Coupons for Cabs and mileage reimbursement.
Dial-a-Ride is a shared ride service for seniors and people with disabilities. Mesa pays about $1.5 million for the service. It gets $2.5 million from Proposition 400 money. Riders have to be registered to use the service. Service for the disabled within the 3/4-mile range of regular bus service is required, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
James said the limited service, if it's approved by the City Council, will cover 94 percent of the city's population. The limited service is likely to broadly hit those living east of Sossaman Road.
"It's certainly going to create a hardship, because there is a demand there for Dial-a-Ride, but with limited revenues we can only do so much," James said.
James added that for those areas that fall outside the 3/4-mile region, riders can use alternatives including Maricopa County's Special Transportation Services, a door-to-door service for seniors, the disabled, and low-income individuals, and subsidized programs such as Coupons for Cabs.
Mesa runs the Dial-a-Ride Service as a combined service called the East Valley Dial-a-Ride, along with Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler and Gilbert.
If the council agreed to the Dial-A-Ride proposal, it would save the city about $471,000 a year.
The department has listed additional options of cutting bus services, although these are just ideas that may not go far in Thursday's discussion.
Reducing these other bus services, such as eliminating Saturday bus service on Mesa funded routes, would save the city up to nearly $660,000 over about six months.
James also pointed out that the city expects to lose its allocation of what's known as the Local Transportation Assistance Fund II, which was passed by the Legislature in 1998 to assist counties with money for transportation services. Money for this fund comes from revenue from Powerball. Mesa had hoped to use $403,700 of its allocated $821,395 for the Gilbert Road route from this money.
Public meetings are likely to be held in January regarding these bus service reductions.