Mammoth mass transit looks for savings; 10 percent cut in service likely

It’s not carved in stone and it’s a long way off, but bus riders in Mammoth will see some reduction in transit service this year.

How that will look, though, is up in the air as of now, said Brian Picken, the assistant airport manager and point man for transportation in town.

Picken said he and the Eastern Sierra Transit Authority (ESTA) have been asked to slice the transit budget by 10 percent.

Outside of that, though, neither Picken nor John Helm, of ESTA, could say what that might mean, according to remarks before the town’s Mobility Commission on Tuesday.

“There are certainly drawbacks to all potential reductions and modification options,” Helm said.

Most likely, he said, there would be in a reduction of hours of operations on some routes. No one is considering stopping routes altogether.

Neither Picken nor Helm advised some sort of fare system going into effect—an option that commissioner Eric Wasserman put on the table.

“There are a number of options that can be looked at,” Helm said. “But the community in general and council in general don’t want to go in that direction necessarily. And with the lawsuit, they (the Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition) may want that money.”

Currently the budget for town transportation is $19,540 a year. There are some state and federal funding grants ($464,000) and a town commitment of $719,000 in TOT monies.

The biggest part of the budget goes to the summer and winter trolleys. The summer trolley, plying Old Mammoth Road and Main Street, and the winter trolley, on the same route, eat up about $5,000 of the budget combined.

Helm said it would be possible to shave hours of operation from the morning and evening routes, as well as taking a look at the other bus lines in town.

The commission took no action on the matter, since it was not an action item, nor was it on the agenda.

Rather, the two showed up to give the commission a heads-up for its next meeting, in May, where the transit issue will come up.

“It isn’t an affirmed reduction at this time,” Helm said. “At next month’s meeting we’ll have more specifics. Our intent today was to brief the commission on what’s coming up.”