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Yomitan bus service in buckets of red ink

Date Posted: 2010-02-04

A community bus service thatís been operating in Yomitan Village since last April is now facing extreme financial difficulties.

The bus service, a service operated jointly by the local government and private companies, is losing money and the Yomitan Village Office isnít quite sure what to do next. When the community began operating the three buses nearly a year ago, it expected to have fares bringing in revenues of •11.3 million annually to offset costs of •22.4 million.

As it has developed, fare incomes are only running •200,000 a month, nearly •9 million below its projections. Village officials had expected to cover large losses, but nothing close to what has actually developed. The three buses are considered essential, with the routings traveling to a total of 60 bus stops in both the northern and southern parts of the west coast village.

Patrons are mostly children and elderly people who use the bus to go to school, shopping and to visit public facilities. ďI use the bus three times a week, and Iím so happy,Ē says one elderly lady. The financial losses are putting a strain on relations among citizens. The bitter debate is raging over whether to shut down the bus service, with the bus users arguing it is essential, while those who donít say it could bankrupt the village.

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