Fares Up, Riders Down for Transit Authority

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WATABusNewFor the third year in a row, ridership is slightly down for the regional transit service that links James City County, Williamsburg and Upper York County.

The Williamsburg Area Transit Authority concluded fiscal year 2015 at the end of June. During fiscal year 2015, 993,440 people used the bus service. That’s down from 996,142 in fiscal year 2014 and 1,010,092 in fiscal year 2013.

WATA’s board of directors — a panel of local government staff members with representatives from the College of William & Mary and Colonial Williamsburg — received the report detailing fiscal year 2015 during a meeting Tuesday. The board did not discuss the results during the meeting.

Despite the drop in ridership, WATA’s farebox revenues climbed from $483,155 in fiscal year 2014 to $502,252 in fiscal year 15. While ridership was down on the main routes, the paratransit service — which caters to disabled riders — experienced a surge in ridership which WATA spokeswoman Amy Hibbard said could help account for the discrepancy in rider numbers and fare collections.

During fiscal year 2015, there were 7,393 paratransit rides provided by WATA. That’s up from 4,340 in fiscal year 2014 and 3,809 in fiscal year 2013.

WATA, which grew out of James City County’s old bus service, primarily relies on government funding to operate. In fiscal year 2014, for example, WATA collected a total of $775,443 for the services it provides while receiving a combined $3.5 million in funding from the state and federal governments and almost $1.2 million from the three Historic Triangle localities, according to an audit for that fiscal year.

An audit for fiscal year 2015 is not yet available.

The recently concluded fiscal year featured several changes for the transit service. It introduced a new digital service allowing riders to track the location of WATA buses and a new route to Jamestown.

WATA Executive Director Kevan Danker resigned March 18 immediately ending his employment. He had been the executive director since August 2012. The board of directors has since appointed William Porter as interim executive director.

The board is currently reviewing a potential job listing for the next executive director. Once approved, it will be posted for at least 30 days. The search will be handled by James City County Human Resources.

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