Tucson bus riders may be caught in RTA vs city battle

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Just when you thought the Sun Tran bus debacle was over, the city and regional transportation authority are clashing again over cuts in funding. And it's riders who may be caught in the crossfire.

Last time the city and RTA went head-to-head, The city came out on top and buses started rolling again. But Wednesday's vote at city council could set up a 'Round 2.' In 60 days fares may go up and routes may be cut if the RTA and the city can't reach a funding agreement.

"If they hold to that existing agreement we don't have a problem," said Councilwoman Karen Uhlich.

But the problem is the RTA wants to revisit that agreement, at a moment when the city is $51 million in the red.

"It's not just now. We've been talking to city staff about issues we had with claims we were getting," said Hayes.

The RTA wants to pay the city $3.7 million less because they say the city's been overcharging.  "What we have to make sure is the RTA plan and taxpayer money are spent wisely," said Hayes.

City officials believe now's just not the right time. "Any cut to our funding by the RTA means we have to look for additional resources," said Uhlich.

The city would cut routes. And if that happens, the threat of another strike looms. It's not good news for riders like Kristen Seymour. "That'd be devastating for me," said Seymour.  "I hope they don't strike again because it affects my job."

Uhlich hopes it won't come to that, but admits right now they have to wait and see.  "We won't know until Regional Transportation takes action," said Uhlich.

The RTA is set to take action on September 30. But for now riders have been warned.

The RTA board meeting will take place at noon on Sept. 30 at 177 N. Church Ave.