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Give idea caution light

March 25, 2012
The Leader Herald

The Gloversville Transit System is looking into whether it should offer rides to Malta and Saratoga Springs.

The transit department has reasons for reviewing this. A massive chip-fabrication plant, GlobalFoundries, now has an operation in Malta, and some Gloversville residents could work there. In addition, a lot of local residents go to Saratoga Springs for jobs, shopping, recreation and gambling at Saratoga Race Course and the Saratoga Casino and Raceway.

There is nothing wrong with studying the costs, state reimbursements and ridership numbers related to a Saratoga County bus route, but we're skeptical about whether it would be in the city's best interests.

In recent years, the city transit has cut back because of costs. The transit system, like other public services, can be an expense for taxpayers, and property owners can't afford to pay more for it.

So far, the transit system's mobility manager, Bill Walrath, says the numbers show a Saratoga County route would lose money. However, he said he has to review the matter further to know for sure.

He offered this possible scenario: If a GTS bus were to go to Malta twice a day, fives times a week, the expense would be $214,000. If GTS were to charge a $10 fare and ridership averages 10 riders for each run, fare revenue would total $52,000, leaving an expense of $162,000, half of which would be covered by the state. This leaves a roughly $80,000 deficit.

Our view on this is simple: Unless a Saratoga County route is guaranteed to either make money or break even, put the brakes on the idea. Gloversville has to concentrate on lowering taxes, not creating new costs.



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