Published: Aug 08, 2011 9:04 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 08, 2011 11:30 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- LeeTran's future includes a giant budget deficit and a need for new spending on buses and shelters. Lee Commissioners got a briefing on the LeeTran study on Monday, and some said: Changes have to occur.

"This is very troubling. We can't keep asking the citizens of Lee to subsidize the bus system to this extent," said commissioner John Manning. "I know that public transit does not run a profit in this country, but there's got to be a better way."

He was reacting to a consultant's study on the future of the bus service for the next 10 years. That study projects a shortfall of 114.5 million dollars in the operating and capital budgets. Commissioner Manning said that would not be accpeptable to most taxpayers.

"I know that public transit is working in parts of this country, far better than here.   We need some changes here in Lee County," said Commisioner Tammy Hall.  

The study finds that out of 7 systems of comparable size in the Southeast U.S., LeeTran ranks as the second-most expensive to operate.  The study says riders want more shelters and benches, and more late-night and weekend routes. All those would add to the budget woes for the system.

"I don't want to be negative, but the people will not stand to be subsidizing a system that is losing riders, but always wants more money," said Commsr. Manning.