GNV, UF leaders start weekly negotiations for bus service 

RTS Electric bus
Courtesy City of Gainesville

UF and city of Gainesville leaders discussed a new transit contract on Monday, kickstarting weekly meetings to hash out a new plan before the June 30 deadline.  

Negotiations had started earlier this year, but Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward said the city felt the negotiations had stalled. The city began public talks two weeks ago, presenting a UF draft proposal it called unrealistic.  

Both parties said they remained at the table to negotiate and sent out media releases on Monday to announce the meeting.  

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Steve Orlando, UF’s associate vice president for communications, said the city had promised to provide a breakdown of its hourly rate per bus to allow UF to understand the costs.  

“Today’s talks with RTS were productive, and everyone wants an outcome that’s good for our students and the community,” Orlando said in the release. “The city now understands better the university’s responsibility to assure our students that the rate being charged is fair.” 

Orlando added that UF and the city agreed to “keep details at the negotiating table as we work through these important conversations together.”  

City Manager Cynthia Curry attended the meeting for Gainesville along with the city attorney, chief operating officer and director of transportation.  

Gainesville said in a Monday release that UF’s proposed 50% reduction in payments would mark a significant shift in the 26-year relationship between the city and the university.  

“The two sides will continue good faith negotiations in the wake of a UF proposal that would lower the university’s total annual financial contribution to the city’s Regional Transit System (RTS) from this year’s budgeted $13.7 million to $6.8 million,” the city said in a release. 

The city also touched on the information requested by UF.  

The city said that UF pays $84 per hour to operate buses and routes that support the campus, students and faculty. UF asked for a breakdown of the $84 per hour rate.  

The city noted in its release that capital expenses are not included in that rate. The city covers those costs along with state and federal grants. The full cost of providing transit services is $138.62, according to the city.  

Gainesville Commissioner Casey Willits will host a virtual town hall on Wednesday, covering the RTS contract, the Vision Zero initiative and Streets Stations and Strong Foundations projects. 

You can watch the town hall through Facebook or the city website. People who register will also get a Zoom link to use for participation.  

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