The HOP Budget Woes

The Route 5 HOP bus arrives at the downtown terminal Thursday, August 2, 2018, in Killeen, Texas. The transit company may change this route as the regional transportation organization faces budget constraints. (Jason Hoekema|Herald)

Daily riders on The Hop’s Route 5 will see changes starting Oct. 1 as the regional bus system cuts back services to avoid a shortfall in the coming fiscal year.

Routes 100 and 4 in Killeen will be extended to pick up the most active stops on Route 5, which will be completely eliminated, according to a news release from the Hill Country Transit District, which operates The Hop.

A new transfer station to connect the two routes will be established at the intersection of Old Farm-to-Market 440 and Baldwin Loop. The service’s current transfer station at Fourth Street and Avenue C in downtown Killeen will remain in place.

In addition, Saturday service, including Americans With Disabilities Act paratranist pickup, will be cut throughout the Killeen transit zone, which includes routes in Killeen, Copperas Cove and Harker Heights. Routes 35 and 65 in Heights and Cove, respectively, will also lose nonpeak-hour service on weekdays.

For Route 35, the last service hour of the day will be eliminated along with three hours between 10:35 a.m. and 1:35 p.m. Daily service will end at 6:06 p.m. at the Walmart Neighborhood Market at 960 E. Farm-to-Market 2410.

For Route 65, the last service hour of the day will be eliminated, with daily service ending at 5:45 p.m. at the Walmart at 2720 E. U.S. Highway 190.

Over the course of the last month, The Hop requested increased contributions from cities that use the service as the district prepared for a shortfall tied to dwindling revenue from a state Medicaid service contract.

In its release, the district said it had to balance increased ridership with tight financial constraints in recent years.

“The system has experienced steady growth during the past four decades,” the release said. “However, due to increased costs and decreased revenues, service changes are now having to be made.”

For Killeen, the service requested more than $455,000 in fiscal year 2019 — a roughly $335,000 increase from the current fiscal year.

The Killeen City Council voted against increasing the city’s contribution Tuesday and gave the exact same amount.

Both the Cove and Heights city councils also did not meet the service’s requested contributions.

For the revised routes and hours, go to takethehop.com.

kyleb@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

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