Dial-a-Ride, the free taxi service funded by the Town of Mountain Village, has been under the microscope since council began working on the town’s 2012 budget last year. Property values are expected to continue to decrease across San Miguel County, resulting in a roughly 15 percent drop in property tax revenues for the municipality, which could force Mountain Village to begin dipping into its reserves to fund its budget starting as early as 2013.
Although the town included full Dial-a-Ride services in its $24.2 million budget for 2012, council and staff deemed it prudent to begin looking at ways to reduce costs as the town expects more revenue shortfalls in the coming years.
“This isn’t just an exercise to save money; it’s an exercise to save Dial-a-Ride,” said Councilmember Dave Schillaci, a member of the town’s Parking and Transportation Committee, at council’s April 26 meeting. “It isn’t a matter of tinkering with this or that.… Down the road this service is going to need serious help, or funding from outside sources, and we need to start addressing the issue now.”
This summer, Dial-a-Ride will operate from 12 p.m.-12 a.m., only (historically the service began at 7 a.m.) Council also discussed cutting back on the Meadows bus service during the summer to further reduce costs, during the hours Dial-a-Ride is operating, but decided to keep the bus’s operational hours the same (7 a.m. to 12 midnight between Meadows and Town Hall Plaza in 30-minute loops.)
This translates to an approximate savings of $67,000 for 2012.
Though council chose to keep bus operating hours the same, while reducing Dial-a-Ride, if both ridership falls off on both Dial-a-Ride and the bus, after 9 p.m., the two operations may be combined to further reduce costs while continuing to provide transportation service in the area.
The Town also plans to increase Dial-a-Ride service during busy periods, like the Bluegrass Festival, Fourth of July and the Pro Cycling Challenge.
At last week’s meeting, council also discussed other means of funding this well-liked service. Most notably, council authorized Mayor Bob Delves to approach the Telluride Mountain Village Owner’s Association at the May 9 meeting to request supplemental funding for Dial-a-Ride in 2013.
As Delves explained, although Dial-a-Ride is popular, it doesn’t fall into the category of a municipal service, such as mass transit bus service. “Without help, we probably will have to face the prospect of fee for service or elimination,” Delves said. As a homeowner amenity, it makes sense that the town’s homeowner’s association pick up part of Dial-a-Ride’s $500,000 per year price tag, he continued.
“The goal is to make this sustainable, and with either [the Town or TMVOA] going it alone it isn’t going to be sustainable,” said Delves.
TMVOA President Jonathon Greenspan, who was at the meeting, agreed.
“I look at it as an opportunity to have a collaborative and working agreement between the two parties that can work well for all of our community members, if the TMVOA accepts that direction,” Greenspan responded.
TMVOA’s May 9 meeting will be held at 4 p.m. at Mountain Village Town Hall.
Dial-a-Ride service in Mountain Village resumes May 24, in conjunction with the Telluride-to-Mountain Village Gondola’s summer operating season.