City reduces expenditures at the pump

This story is the final part of a three-part series exploring the effects of high gas prices on the student, university and city levels.

 

Peaking at nearly $4 a gallon, gas prices in Murray have risen considerably in the last few months.

While no one knows when prices will let up, the city of Murray is facing decisions to cut from other areas.

Alan Lanier, director of finance for Murray, said the prices are greatly affecting the city.

“Well obviously increased gas prices either cause folks to drive less or, in some cases that they can’t drive less, it kind of crowds out spending in other areas for them,” he said.

The city has had to undergo financial changes in order to combat fuel prices, Lanier said.

“The city itself is continually trying to reduce its gas consumption for economic and environmental reasons,” he said. “But obviously with the gas increases, we need to budget more and more money for fuel. We’ve got a limited amount of money we can spend and whatever we have to spend on fuel then has to be taken from other areas.”

This, he said, is something negatively impacting the city.

In some cases, funding for things within the city has been cut.

Though the decisions are tough, if the gas prices continue to rise, the financial office of the city will be forced to limit spending in other areas.

The Murray Calloway Transit Authority, a service that includes Racer Routes and an on demand service, has also reevaluated spending.

Bjarne Hansen, executive director for the Murray Calloway Transit Authority, said while the gas prices can be a problem, it causes people to take advantage of the public transit system.

Transit Authority is now using fuel efficient vehicles, he said.

“We went from diesel busses last year to gas burners, so we went from a 14 passenger bus to a smaller bus,” he said.

Though the busses are now smaller, Hansen said the authority will continue to offer the best service to the community as possible.

Hansen said they have taken several measures to reduce costs.

The Red Route has stopped earlier than it used to and the Blue Route has been reduced to one bus.

Though some reductions have occurred, they have looked to pick up more passengers after hours on the Nighttime Route, he said.

“So we’re trying to pick up more clients and to offer more services but to still maintain our costs,” he said.

Racer Routes are $1 for the general public, free for Murray State students, faculty and staff with a Racercard and 50 cents for seniors and handicapped persons.

Hansen said public transit is a vital benefit for the city.

“I would suggest that people ride public transit; it’s a great thing for this community, a wonderful asset,” he said.