Columbia City Council voted on two proposals Monday night that would change Para-Transit routes and fares. One proposal was to increase the fare from $2 to $3 per ride, the council rejected that proposal.
The other proposal was to eliminate the three Para-Transit routes with the lowest ridership. Many community members said that would leave riders along those routes without options to access resources and jobs. Mark Satterwhite, of Boone County Family Resources read a letter from eight community agencies that serve people with disabilities.
“Many people with disabilities do not have means or ability to transport themselves to or from work, social service agencies, medical facilities and other places in the community,” Satterwhite said. “The bus system and para transit are critical to some who have no other affordable, accessible transit option.”
City Transit Manager Drew Brooks developed the new route plan in response these growing concerns.
The flex plan would not totally eliminate two of the three proposed routes. The plan would only eliminate one route, and change the other two.
“It’s not an elimination of service, it’s a reduction in the frequency,” Brooks said.
The two routes would become flex routes, with less frequency. Riders living within a certain distance of the route can call and schedule a ride to still have access.
“We’ll basically design a geographical area that is usually around a three quarter of a mile buffer around the current route as it exists today,” Brooks said. “And anyone that lives within that buffer could schedule a ride the day before and we would pick them up and take them to a fixed route where they could access the rest of the system.”
The flex pilot plan and the elimination of the route will begin on November 1st. Brooks said the route changes were enough to save the city the half a millions dollars it needed to approve the 2018 budget. However, city manager Mike Matthes believes the rate increase may need to be proposed again