JOHNSTOWN - Several riders of the Gloversville Transit Service's Johnstown route picketed at City Hall on Friday to protest the possible shutdown of bus routes as a result of the disagreement between the Gloversville and Johnstown city governments over funding of the service.
"The bus is a staple in my life," Kim Lockwood, an organizer of the protest, said Friday as about nine other riders displayed signs urging passing cars to honk their horns in support of the bus service. "I depend on it for grocery shopping, getting to doctor's appointments. Sometimes, I get on the bus just to hang out and have fun talking with the other riders. "
The demonstrators were concerned how the elderly, the disabled and the poor would fare if the run were to be eliminated.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Johnstown resident Jan Davis holds a sign during a demonstration outside City Hall on Friday.
Lucy Ostrander, 78, of Johnstown, held up her sign to a passing vehicle, eliciting a honk. She worried that she wouldn't be able to get to stores and have to curtail her food shopping to a once-a-month taxi ride.
"I don't like to depend on anybody else," she said. "I'm disgusted about the cuts. A lot of people ride the bus just to enjoy themselves. People of all ages ride the bus. I depend on the bus."
"If the bus stops, the mayor should resign," she said, referring to Johnstown's Mayor Sarah Slingerland.
Slingerland was not at her office at City Hall on Friday.
Gloversville resident Wally Truesdell said losing the Johnstown run would be "a major pain, financially."
"Transit is a public service," he said. "Johnstown should agree to pay for it."
The Johnstown Common Council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall and will consider approving a contract with GTS that will keep 13 Johnstown bus runs on the road until November.
In Johnstown's 2010 budget, $38,100 was planned for GTS services. City of Gloversville officials requested additional payments earlier this year, about $5,900 more, for this year's services, but Johnstown officials, including Slingerland and Treasurer Michael Gifford have said that there is no money in the budget to pay for the increase.
Gloversville responded by stating that service would end on Sept. 30 if at least the $38,100 bill is not paid immediately. Johnstown has been told by Gloversville that it would have until Nov. 12 to pay the additional $5,900 to continue service until the end of the year.
Jim Hoyt of Johnstown hopes the two cities can come to some agreement.
"I need the bus," said Hoyt, who works at Price Chopper and has epilepsy. "I could walk the three miles to work or take a taxi, but you have to choose between medicine and food or a taxi ride. The bus makes life much easier."
"If [city officials] were in our shoes, they might understand," he said.
Edward J. Hunt can be reached at email@example.com.