A report released this week shows an increase in the amount of riders by physically challenged persons of Town and Country Transit (TACT) busses.
TACT General Manager Patti Lynn Baker submitted the report to the Board of Directors last Wednesday showing the amount of times bus drivers accommodated passengers who face physical challenges and need the assistance of a special lift device available on all of the vehicles.
The report gave statistics from July 2016 to June 2017 of their fixed-route service. Ridership ranged from the lowest in February 2017 of 2,804 to a maximum of 3,416 in August 2016. The most senior citizen ridership was in June 2017, with 1,011 passengers over the age of 65. Any senior citizen can sign up to ride the bus at no cost, which is funded through the Pennsylvania Lottery.
Baker said that she isn’t looking for a specific number as a goal for ridership, but rather wants to see an increase annually.
“We always try to see an increase. I would like to strive for a 4% increase over last year, overall. As far as individual increases in any one category, we don’t really strive for, but we’d like to see like a 4% increase.”
Baker said she began tracking the number of times the lift assist platforms were used on the busses because it impacts the schedule.
“When we’re building schedules, we have to plan around that because when we deploy the lifts, it takes longer for the driver. So, we want to make sure that we are planning accordingly. So, that’s something we started tracking last year, actually, internally, because we think it’s important and we want to make sure that we make sure to allow enough time for our drivers and our passengers to be able to get to where they need to go in a timely manner.”
Baker said the information she received took her and the Board by surprise.
“I think maybe we’re a little surprised. I mean, you look down here in August last year and there were 271 and then you look in some of our busier months even December, 245.”
State reimbursement is contingent on ridership. However, some things may change following a Consolidation Study meeting in September. According to a court house official who gave information on the condition of anonymity, the Study will suggest TACT to consolidate with Indiana’s transit authority. In order to do that, the current Board made up of municipal members will be dissolved and the two counties will assume responsibility for the transit services and future costs.
Member municipalities will no longer be required to contribute local match dollars after consolidation. However, the County will be in the bus business and county-wide tax dollars will be used for future local match funding requirements although service to the entire county is not expected.
The Consolidation Study meeting is set to occur at 10:30 AM. Local municipal council persons and supervisors are invited to attend; however turnout is expected to be low since most of them work during the day.
Baker declined to comment on the pending meeting.