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City's transit system shuts down for lack of funding

MERIDIAN — Meridian’s transmit system has shut down leaving the city scurrying to meet the needs of people who relied on the buses to get around.

Kirk Thompson, executive adviser to Mayor Cheri Barry, said the city hopes to get some bus service in Meridian.

Meridian Transit System board president Bo Hawkins said the decision to cease operations was the result of a lack of funding from the city. The system shut down Wednesday. The system employed 12 people.

Thompson said the city council has cut the contribution to MTS’ budget every fiscal year since 2008. The council has made cuts to the city’s contributions and to city departments in many of its recent budgets.

MTS also gets federal funding through the Mississippi Department of Transportation, but the amount is determined based on the city’s contribution — the less money the city puts into MTS, Hawkins said, the less federal funding MTS gets through MDOT.

MTS received $47,500 from the city for the 2012 fiscal year, according to Hawkins. He said he could not remember how much MDOT had contributed.

“Over the last two and half years, the city has cut our funding over 60 percent, and that cuts our federal match, so we just didn’t have the money to operate,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins said MTS is in talks with an entity that may be interested in funding the bus service. He would not say what entity it was, saying that, “they asked us not to release the details.”

“We are working on a plan now to let this interruption in service be as short as possible,” Hawkins said. “It’s not definite, but we’re very optimistic that we will be able to continue service.”

This is not the first time the Meridian Transit System has closed. In 1996 it shut down for five months. Then again in 2005, it temporarily closed.

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