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Richland OKs bus financing

Jan 19, 2011 1:24:00 AM - thestate.com
A divided Richland County Council on Tuesday agreed to spend $1.7 million as stopgap financing to help shore up metropolitan Columbia’s faltering bus system.

In a 7-4 vote, council agreed to use a little more than $1 million from its $2.7 million surplus in a road maintenance account, plus $600,000 from the unpopular vehicle fee account to bolster the buses.

But its commitment is good for one year, and then only if Columbia City Council and Lexington County Council kick in their fair shares, council members said.

Councilman Bill Malinowski took aim at Lexington County because its council is considering replacing bus service with a scaled-back transportation system only for disabled residents. “We keep putting up for them and they keep stringing us along,” he said.

After some council members complained that Richland County should use its road maintenance money for paving dirt roads, council’s majority postponed that decision and voted to adopt county administrator Milton Pope’s temporary funding plan for the buses, which make about 7,000 trips every weekday.