VTA to ask Island towns for funding to restore service

Members of the Vineyard Transit Authority’s (VTA) advisory board voted 6-1 earlier this month to ask Island towns for $667,000 to help restore off-season service.

The board agreed to send a letter to each Island town asking to place a funding article on their upcoming town meeting warrants. Tisbury representative Elaine Miller told The Times the board wanted to make sure towns got engaged.

VTA service was cut this winter due to a $1 million budget deficit that stems from $700,000 for the new union contract and wage increases for VTA bus drivers, following a monthlong strike this summer, a $200,000 unanticipated rise in insurance policy costs for buses, and $100,000 in rent increases for the VTA administration building, according to the VTA website.

In November, VTA administrator Angela Grant said there had been a 15 percent decline in ridership due to a national decline in ridership, drive-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft, and the drivers’ strike this summer.

Combined, Island towns already contribute $900,000 to the VTA’s $6 million operating budget.