City Council members upset over B.C. Transit privatization

By Perry Russom

October 9, 2013 Updated Oct 9, 2013 at 11:41 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The debate over the privatization of the Broome County Transit System continues.

Councilwoman Lea Webb calls public transportation the circulatory system of the community and said the transportation needs to stay public to keep the quality of life.

Webb was joined by other elected officials and bus riders outside of city hall Wednesday afternoon.

"One of our concerns is the companies that take over public services like transportation that the bottom line is cost and profit and not necessarily the service for the constituency," said Lea Webb.

She said going private could create obstacles like an increase in bus fares and route changes.

"There's events that I would like to go to that involve the deaf community that I cannot go because the bus service ends at 6 p.m. and these activities don't end till later in the evening, so I can't participate in the community fully," said Jonathan Dollhoph of Endicott.

City Council President Teri Rennia said the city uses the county's buses more than any of the outlying areas making this a city issue.

"No one understands better than city council the need to save money and find cost savings wherever we can, but a healthy and vibrant community depends on public transportation," said Rennia.

In a statement, county officials said "the City of Binghamton doesn't have any role in the operations or finances of B.C. Transit."

Rennia said the council has some questions regarding the privatization. She said they asked county officials to attend their work session this past Monday to answer those questions, but no one from the county showed. Rennia called it "appalling" and "unforgivable."

The county said they offered to answer any reasonable questions that City Council had about B.C. Transit, but they didn't ask any.

The county said they'll send what's called a request for proposal in the next few weeks.

Then, there will be a set time for bidders to respond with their proposals to operate BC Transit.

The county says that time is normally a few months.

Wednesday night, City Council voted in a 6-0-1 vote to pass a resolution opposing the privatization of the transit system. Councilman Jerry Motsavage abstained.