SCT avoids nearly 100 layoffs with promised funding

CENTRALIA — Based on information they received at a meeting Wednesday in Springfield, officials with South Central Transit believe they may avoid nearly 100 layoffs, 10 of which were set to take effect next week.

According to SCT Managing Director Sheila Niederhofer, they were told Wednesday that the state will be releasing a portion of their federal funding in the next one to two weeks.

Niederhofer calls the move a “band-aid” for the current funding situation, but adds it will help the transit system avoid additional cuts. She hopes the partial funding will allow them to maintain current operations at least until January.

Prior to Wednesday’s meeting, 10 layoff notices had been sent out, but those are now being rescinded. She said an additional 80 layoffs were planned by to be sent out by the end of December.

While the partial release of federal funding will help SCT avoid the layoffs for now, routes that were dropped the first of November will not resume at this time. The Pirate Routes that ran between Salem, Mt. Vernon, and Centralia stopped running at the first of the month.

Downstate public transit systems have not received any state funding since the start of the fiscal year July first. SCT hasn’t been hit as hard as some other downstate transit systems that have either suspended services or completely closed their doors.