Manhattan To Join Regional Transit Administration

The Manhattan City Commission voted to enter into an agreement between local jurisdictions for the creation of the Flint Hills Regional Transit Administration (FHRTA).

The proposal was made by the Flint Hills Regional Council (FHRC) during Tuesday night’s City Commission meeting.

“We have suggested that we create a public entity at a regional level through an interlocal agreement, which would then be signed off on by the Attorney General and would give that entity (FHRTA) status as a public entity and would be able to apply for and receive directly from FTA, the 5307 funds,” said Gary Stith Planner for the FHRC

The FHRTA will be designated as the direct recipient of the funds and will work with end users to provide the local match. A majority of the local match would likely come from K-State.

Under the agreement, The Transit Administration won’t have any authority to request funding from its members and can’t impose any taxes. It is essentially an independent entity that allows transit companies to access to federal transportation funds. ATA bus will likely be one of the main beneficiaries of the FTA money through the FHRTA.

A key component of the FHRTA is the Regional Transit Board, which will be comprised of a single representative of each participating member. Those members include Geary, Pottawatomie and Riley Counties, Manhattan, Junction City, K-State and Fort Riley.

Stith suggested that members of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Policy Board could also serve on the transit board. However, during Tuesday night’s meeting, Commissioner Rich Jankovich said there should be a clear distinction between the two. “Part of me likes the idea of kind of a Chinese wall with separate boards. Even though it’s a little more cumbersome, ’cause then that pushes it all away from any direct conflict, but the absolute mission of the two is divergently different.”

Commissioner Wynn Butler and Mayor John Matta expressed concerns about the FHRTA because insurance provisions between the City and the FHRC haven’t been finalized, and the specific voting roles for Transit Board members haven’t been completely ironed out.

“Unless it’s time sensitive, the details should be worked out before voting. It’s not a good way to do business to vote for something before having all the facts,” said John Matta, Manhattan mayor.

The motion carried with a vote of 3-2.