Owego, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Tioga County is trying to decide if it’s worth a tax increase to save the county bus service. But, some people in Owego, including transit workers, think there can be more done to save the service.
Last fall, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) pulled Medicaid transportation services back to the state level, which used to be Tioga County Transit's responsibility.
Now, they're down from 1,000 passengers per day to approximately 200. That has left the county to figure out if the service is worth it.
But to some residents and Tioga County Transit employees, it is worth it. Right now, the county is giving two options: to get rid of the transit or up taxes by two percent to fill the over $440,000 void left by the Medicaid transportation.
"I want to put out to the taxpayer before taxes get raised, that there are things to be done to run this more efficiently," said bus driver Renee Snyder.
Snyder said there should be other options, like increasing fares and decreasing the amount of routes. Currently there are about 15 employees, eight routes and over ten buses.
It is now up to the residents to voice their opinions to Tioga County on if a two percent tax hike is worth it for this service.
"Two percent is not bad, it's a good program," said Owego resident Mathew Flanagan.
"A two percent increase you're going to find a lot of resistance. I think there has to be some other option," said Owego resident Michael Dunham.
Snyder is calling on the county to try to re-evaluate the service and save it without hiking up taxes. For her, the bus system is her way of life.
"For my family it means both my husband and I lose our job working here. These people are my friends, and I can't see Tioga County adding to their unemployment in order to get rid of the bus service," Snyder said.
To find out more about the transit system and how to contact Tioga County Legislators, click here.