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January 31. 2013 10:24PM

MTA doesn't renew bus contract

MANCHESTER - The city transit agency is again taking its management in house.

The Manchester Transit Authority has not renewed its contract with First Transit, which has provided the management team for the MTA since 2002, after the agency's two top executives resigned.

MTA Executive Director Mike Whitten, who had been employed by First Transit, will retain his role, but will be paid by and report directly to the MTA board.

First Transit's operations manager will also remain with the MTA, while the board is seeking a new assistant director. The change will officially take effect Feb. 11.

Whitten said going to an outside company made sense in the wake of the high-profile departures a decade ago, but was less important today.

"I think this time the board was thinking about cost control," Whitten said of the board's decision not to renew the First Transit contract. "I'm sure they figured they could provide their own leadership in-house."

MTA board Chairman Peter Escalera did not return a call for comment.

The MTA runs the Manchester area bus system, as well as school routes.

The MTA's financial report for the 2012 fiscal year, which ended June 31, shows that its transit service lost $921,000 over the year. In its school bus service, the report shows a $54,600 profit for the year.

Whitten said ridership is up 7 percent, according to the latest numbers, compared to the same time last year. "Ridership is strong," he said.

tsiefer@unionleader.com


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