The Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART) is proposing a reduction in the number of times it runs routes into parts of Surry County, with a May 9 public hearing set for the plan.
PART’s reasoning is simple: the routes are not paying for themselves. Executive Director Brent McKinney said last week that the organization is working to strengthen its financial base, and in so doing, “We must reduce routes we cannot afford,” he said.
While it is regrettable to see any such regional transportation program cut back on its services, particularly on those which service some Surry County residents, this approach is a welcome change to PART’s modus operandi from the past. That generally included going to the localities it serviced, including Surry, and asking — sometimes nearly demanding — more public subsidies, rather than figuring out ways to make the operation financially self-sufficient.
The Surry County Board of Commissioners rightly said no to such requests in recent years, whether those took the form of asking the board to impose a fee on county residents purchasing private vehicle registrations, or a straight-up disbursement from the county general fund.
The commissioners were of a mind that PART should do more to make itself financially sound, rather than asking for hand-outs, and we agree that was the right decision.
Now, it seems PART officials are moving in that direction, and we applaud them for such. We do, however, believe PART plays an increasingly important role for Surry County residents, so we encourage them and county officials to attend the May 9 hearing to let their opinions be heard.
The hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. at the PART office, 7800 Airport Center Drive, in Greensboro.