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ROTA Service Nearing End Date
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Tuesday’s meeting of the ROTA, Riverbank-Oakdale Transit Authority, Board of Directors is scheduled to include approval of a Memorandum of Understanding to transfer operation of the service to Stanislaus Regional Transit, StaRT.

The changeover is to take effect Jan. 1, 2013.

ROTA voted to merge with StaRT this past June, and the goal is to have the board approve the memorandum of understanding to start the changeover process. The timeline also includes individual MOUs from the city councils in Riverbank and Oakdale, then the county Board of Supervisors approval prior to dissolving the Joint Powers Authority and the ROTA transit coordinator position by the end of the year.

Background in the staff report being provided at the meeting by ROTA transit coordinator Donna Bridges indicates that ROTA hasn’t achieved the state’s mandated fare box ratio of 10 percent for the past five years.

Fares paid by riders must meet or exceed 10 percent of the operating costs, she said, but that hasn’t happened.

“In 2009 ROTA’s budget was cut by $800,000 in order to meet the performance measure and service hours were drastically reduced thereby eliminating valuable service to our communities,” she said.

As early as 2010, ROTA went to the Stanislaus Council of Governments seeking assistance in determining ways to meet the fare box ratio so the bus service could continue operating in the cities. Bridges said officials were never able to find a way to achieve that without incorporating ROTA into a different system altogether, rather than leave it as a stand alone operation.

“On June 12 the ROTA Board of Directors voted to incorporate ROTA into the county service,” Bridges added. “ROTA will continue to operate the transit service until Dec. 31, 2012.”

All advertising on the buses and the bus shelters will be removed prior to that time and the Memorandum of Understanding between ROTA and StaRT will begin, with a six-month period being set for the changeover. By June 30, 2013, StaRT will change the buses to their colors and add their logos and the fares for service in the Riverbank-Oakdale area will be reduced.

Bridges noted that StaRT is already working with Storer Transit Systems to consolidate the service operations so Storer can dispatch the buses. New MOUs will be mapped out individually between StaRT and the City of Riverbank, as well as StaRT and the City of Oakdale, with those MOUs covering the scope of services for each community taking effect July 1, 2013.

The Oct. 9 meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the Riverbank Council Chambers, 6707 Third St.

A closed session regarding Bridges – who will lose her job when the ROTA Transit Coordinator post is dissolved – is also on the agenda with a possible recommendation coming after the closed session.