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Barstow Area Transit & VVTA headed for merger
BARSTOW • The Barstow Area Transit and Victor Valley Transit Authority are on track for a merger to save money, county transportation officials say.
The findings of the Desert Consolidation Study Final Report commissioned by San Bernardino Associated Governments officials in July was adopted by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors this week.
SANBAG recently signed off on the consolidation study, approving a recom- mendation for the merger that “will provide savings due to lower administrative and operating costs,” according to a recent statement.
According to the findings, the proposed consolidation of the Barstow Area Transit and Victor Valley Transit Authority “will likely result in reduced administrative costs to cities, town and county,” the report stated, while agreeing that “consolidation is likely to result in improved transit services in the High Desert.”
The study also considered consolidation of the Needles Area Transit but found there would be “no net benefit to the city of Needles.”
Now that the county has adopted the findings, SANBAG can begin consolidating the transit agencies by amending and expanding the Joint Powers Authority, the county’s meeting summary stated.
VVTA Executive Director Kevin Kane said the process would not be quick, “but we're moving forward.”
Kane agreed that efficiency and savings may already make sense with the VVTA’s Barstow-Victorville (B-V) Link service, but consolidation of the agencies would mostly benefit Barstow.
“From our perspective, we would be a helper agency,” Kane said, noting the VVTA’s administrative and operational strength. “Barstow seemed to be open to the merger — much more than VVTA because we’re running a strong agency. But we don’t see a problem with our board moving on it.”
According to a staff report by Gerry Newcombe, director of the county’s Department of Public Works-Transportation, consolidation of the transit agencies will save money because the financial impact to the county only consists of local transportation funds allocated directly to transit by SANBAG. The staff report estimates the county will save about $60,000.
The VVTA was established through a Joint Powers Authority in 1991, comprising Adelanto, Apple Valley, Hesperia, Victorville and San Bernardino County. The new JPA would include two additional entities.
“The study anticipates an amended Joint Powers Authority with two new seats, expanding from five seats to seven, with the city of Barstow holding one new seat and county Supervisorial District 3 holding the other,” the staff report stated. “Even with the county holding two seats, the anticipated administrative savings to the county total approximately $60,000 annually by combining administrative expenditures of two transit agencies into one.”
Kane said that VVTA will soon hold informative meetings in all of its jurisdictions to alert commuters to the merger.
Jim E. Winburn can be reached at email@example.com or at 760-955-5468.