The Coyote Run transit program in Oro Valley is not quite safe from elimination, with councilmen Steve Solomon and Lou Waters placing the issue on the June 15 agenda for reconsideration.
After emotional pleas from the public on June 1, the council voted 6-1 to retain the transit program for at least one more year. Mayor Satish Hiremath cast the lone vote of dissent.
While the council cannot officially vote to either keep or eliminate Coyote Run, they can vote for reconsideration during Wednesday’s meeting. If reconsideration is approved, another public hearing will be heard, and the council will be taking another vote at a later date.
When asked why the council should reconsider its June 1 vote to keep Coyote Run, Solomon replied, “I’m afraid the meeting got emotional and there was some confusion on what the (Regional Transportation Authority) would be providing.”
Councilman William Garner, who has been in favor of keeping Coyote Run, said he disagrees the vote was emotionally driven. “I am just stunned and amazed this will be reconsidered. A 6-1 vote is solid. I think it was this council doing what is right for our citizens,” Garner said. “If it was emotional the first time, don’t you think it’s going to be even more emotional the second time around?”
The June 1 vote was a change from the council’s original plans outlined during May’s budget discussions to cut Coyote Run and save the town $220,000. Coyote Run is Oro Valley’s demand-response transit service for residents who are disabled and/or 62 years of age or older.
With no state funding to assist with program costs, the council and staff have been planning for a year to turn the program over to the RTA. The RTA was slated to start providing Coyote Run’s more than 800 regular riders with alternative transportation, beginning July 1.
Hiremath, who serves on the RTA board, said he is glad the council will reconsider the issue.
“From the council member standpoint, I think they are getting over the emotional side of this issue,” he said. “In these economic times, logic has to prevail. The RTA can provide better services at no cost to the town. The hiccup here is the unknown, and people do not like change. Council members realized this course of action has been planned for a year, and it wasn’t just some fly-by-night idea.”
Hiremath said he is not sure council members will change their vote in the end, or even approve the measure to reconsider, but feels it does warrant more discussion.
Councilman Waters has not yet returned The Explorer’s call today (June 9).