FAIRFIELD — Fairfield will study whether the Fairfield and Suisun Transit system – known as FAST – might merge with the SolTrans system serving Vallejo and Benicia.
The City Council on Tuesday voted to go ahead with the $45,000 study by Management Partners. The Solano Transportation Authority is providing the money.
Among the questions is whether a merger with SolTrans would improve bus service and save money at a time when federal, state and regional funds for bus services are harder to come by. The study is to provide answers.
Simply going ahead with a study generated no controversy on the City Council. The council passed the item on consent calendar without comment. The real discussion will begin once the study gets completed, perhaps in three months.
“It’s just a study,” City Councilman Rick Vaccaro said after the meeting.”It’s not going to cost the city money.”
Among the financial issues FAST faces in coming years is replacing buses as they age, City Manager Sean Quinn said. One issue with being part of SolTrans is there would be less local control, he said.
“Until we do the study and have the professionals take a look at it, I don’t think there’s a decision one way or the other,” Quinn said. “Or even a recommendation.”
FAST serves Fairfield and Suisun City and has express buses that go to Bay Area Rapid Transit stations in El Cerrito, Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek. It is governed by the Fairfield City Council and run by MV Transportation under a contract that expires in 2014.
Solano County’s cities with guidance from the Solano Transportation Authority in 2007 looked at possible bus operations consolidations. On the table was everything from creating a single, countywide bus system to having some cities merge their systems. Only Vallejo and Benicia decided to consolidate bus systems, creating SolTrans in 2010 to serve the south county.
Now Fairfield will revisit the issue.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.