University of Florida & City of Gainesville in Disputes Over RTS Bus Funding; Special Meeting Held in Response

University of Florida & City of Gainesville in Disputes Over RTS Bus Funding; Special Meeting Held in Response
Mayor Harvey Ward speaking at the RTS 50th anniversary celebration on Friday

On April 9th, the City of Gainesville announced in a press release that the University of Florida (UF) had plans to cut $6.9 million from the Gainesville Regional Transit System (RTS) budget, reducing it by over half. 

UF has been contributing a significant amount of the RTS budget since the late 1990s, and the loss of their contributions would result in significant cuts to the current RTS services. 

Chief Operating Officer at the City of Gainesville, Andrew Pearson, went over specifics in Thursday’s special city commission meeting to discuss the ongoing dispute, detailing that it would result in a loss of 52+ positions and 11 service routes. 

Andrew Pearson giving the presentation which showed the below data at Thursday's meeting

Gainesville City Commissioners spoke overwhelmingly against the proposed cuts by UF.

Commissioner Reina Saco argued the cuts would result in millions more in losses than the proposed cut of 6.9 million due to a loss of advertising dollars and grant money. Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut said the entire employment of Gainesville’s city would be negatively affected. 

On the same day of the special meeting, Senior Vice President of Construction, Facilities, and Auxiliary at UF Dave Kratzer sent a letter to Mayor Ward, stating, “We are still at the table and would welcome you back.” 

Kratzer stated that UF has “not made any public announcements or final determinations regarding the ongoing RTS talks” and told the mayor his press releases weren’t helping the situation, accusing the city of not providing requested RTS data. 

Kratzer additionally accused the city of misrepresenting the data they’d provided, with the letter stating, “We presume that the city keeps such data and that it would shed light on the reason why RTS currently charges non-UF riders a cash price of $1.50 per ride but charges UF students an average of $2.86 per ride. The data we have right now does not align with the city’s price – we need to understand why, and we ask that you share your data.”

Commissioner Chestnut responded to UF’s data requests at the meeting, stating, “They were concerned about transparency data, and it was because of the transparency data that they wanted to reconsider this contract. My question is, what exactly are they talking about?"

City manager Cynthia Curry said that, to her knowledge, the City of Gainesville had not neglected to provide any requested data and that “if they are requesting additional data, the transparency is: if we have it, they can have it." 

At 5:00 pm on April 12th, the City of Gainesville held an event celebrating the 50th anniversary of RTS at the RTS Administration Building. 

During an interview at the event, Commissioner Casey Willits backed up his colleagues' statements that they’ve provided requested RTS data to UF while also acknowledging where UF’s questions about the data may be arising from. 

“RTS has a lot of data that the federal transportation administration requires anyway, and in the process of UF’s own transportation study, they needed a massive amount of data from RTS to determine what transportation was on campus. We had already provided reams and reams—a whole book of data on RTS. Perhaps UF still has some questions about disaggregating some of the data to routes specifically funded by UF or serving UF. Perhaps they’re looking for data on individual rides from UF students vs. staff, but it is inaccurate to say we haven’t given them loads of data. Perhaps they want us to do the analysis first, but they have a lot of data because, federally, we have to provide that data… I don’t know what they’re talking about when they say they need more data.” 

Mayor Ward spoke at the meeting, thanking city officials along with RTS employees and contributors. 

“Nearly everyone here is important; as a matter of fact, everyone here is important in one way or another to what we do,” Ward said before telling attendees he was a Route 10 bus rider and thanking RTS’s longest-serving employee, Jesus Gomez. 


The City of Gainesville will hold a Regional Transit System Advisory Board meeting tomorrow at 5:30 pm to further discuss the funding dispute at the RTS administration building on 34 SE 13th Road. 

Jack Walden

Jack Walden

Jack Walden is the creator of Gnvinfo and a 2nd year journalism major at Santa Fe College. From general information, to exposing falsehoods and corruption, Jack seeks to deliver the truth.
Gainesville, FL