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Gainesville says UF pulling bus budget. UF says there’s been a 'major misunderstanding'

The City of Gainesville announced in a press conference Tuesday that the University of Florida has proposed to pull millions of dollars from the city’s Regional Transit System budget.

According to the city, the proposal was that as of July 1, UF would end its yearly contract with the city and instead provide monthly payments of $570,000, cutting its total yearly contribution to the RTS budget in half from $13.7 million to $6.8 million.

University spokesperson Steve Orlando released a written statement in response to the city’s press conference, stating that there has been a “major misunderstanding on the city's part.”

The statement read that UF had “made no announcements” about the proposal, and “believed that our good faith talks were ongoing.” It continued that the university was surprised to learn about the press conference.

RTS funding sources (Courtesy of the City of Gainesville).
RTS funding sources (Courtesy of the City of Gainesville).

At the conference Tuesday morning, Mayor Harvey Ward said this proposal is not sustainable.

“We will not be able to offer the level of service that our community is used to,” he said.

Ward also said the proposal is not finalized, and the city intends to continue negotiating with the university.

“The offer that they have made is not going to work, and there are very real world results that will flow from that offer,” he said.

Local transit union president Zefnia Durham said at the conference that he’s “losing sleep” over the proposal.

“I think it's a tragedy that we were able to propose such cuts to such a wonderful system,” he said.

The current agreement between UF and the city allows unlimited free bus service for students in exchange for the university providing nearly half of the city’s total RTS funding. According to the city’s press release, approximately 70 percent of RTS riders have been UF-affiliated over the last 26 years, totaling an estimated 3.9 million trips by the end of fiscal year 2024.

However, according to a UF bus contract proposal provided to the city during contract negotiations, the university calculates that 379,000 UF-affiliated riders use the service per month, which at $1.50 per ride totals the $570,000 per month proposed.

The city’s website states the budget cuts may result in the elimination of more than 50 staffed positions, reduction or elimination of 22 bus routes, reduction of the bus fleet by 36 buses, and reduction of RTS service by more than 30 percent. These reductions would include eliminating all five on-campus routes as well as six student-oriented routes.

Kristin is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing