WATERTOWN — As expected, the City Council on Monday night approved an agreement with the Volunteer Transportation Center to devise a strategy for the city’s public bus system.
The Volunteer Transportation Center will evaluate the bus system as an outside contractor to develop routes, decide how to get the service to people who need it and to seek state and federal funding. The city will continue to run CitiBus on a day-to-day basis.
The VTC will develop a plan put together by the Metropolitan Transportation Organization, a group that oversees transportation issues in the greater Watertown area, to expand the bus system and develop new routes.
The city hopes to finally expand a bus route farther out to the retail stores on Route 3 and to Fort Drum in the next year or two.
The VTC will use $125,242 in federal and state transportation assistance funding to manage CitiBus for the city. There will be no cost to the city.
CitiBus currently relies on state and federal funding, but it does not make a profit.
Sam Purington, executive director of the VTC, said Monday night it will take between two and four weeks to finalize the agreement with the city, about two to three months to hire a mobility manager and about six months before the successful candidate to start working on the plan.
The city went through a Request for Proposal, with the VTC submitting the only proposal. Using volunteer drivers, the VTC already provides people with transportation to medical appointments in all three counties.
In recent years, the VTC has managed the public bus system in St. Lawrence County under the mobility manager model and just started doing the same in Oswego County.
Last spring, the city put six new buses on the road.