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City bus service discusses 2020 funding requests

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Pecos Trails Transit of Roswell is asking for more than $1.06 million in federal funding for federal fiscal year 2020, its director said.

Six public transit services from southeast New Mexico discussed their funding requests, which go through the New Mexico Department of Transportation, with members of the Southeast Regional Transportation Planning Organization Policy Committee at a Wednesday meeting in Roswell.

“Reviewing our applicants is very important to our federal process,” said Jason Park of the Rural Transit Program of the state Department of Transportation. “The RTPO (Regional Transportation Planning Organization) prioritization is not only helpful because the RTPO scores the applications that fulfills our process, but it also represents additional opportunities.”

Among those opportunities, he said, are chances for the public to hear about transit plans and for transit agencies to coordinate their efforts.

He also noted that $14 million in federal funding for the 5311 grants was provided to eligible applicants for fiscal year 2019.

After the meeting, Pecos Trails Transit Director Anna Aragon said that the 2020 request would include a matching fund request from the city for $731,788, an amount which would require the approval of the Roswell City Council. The funding process involves several different steps, with funding decisions expected by about September 2019. The federal fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.

The 5311 federal grant covers 80 percent of administrative costs and 50 percent of operating costs, Aragon said.

The transit group’s current fiscal year 2019 funding includes $1,052,713 in federal money and $689,251 from the city of Roswell.

The 2020 funding would include paying for the costs of adding a northwestern route to the existing five fixed routes, Aragon said.

Aragon said that the bus system has served 132,153 passengers from January to October of this year, with the annual total expected to reach about 158,585. With its current five routes, it has 250 bus stops. It also provides free service to about 500 to 800 special needs passenger each month as drivers are available.