Ridership Up

Use Of County Transportation System On The Increase

By Deb Hadachek Telescope News
www.thebellevilletelescope.com

A jump in the number of citizens who use the Republic County Transportation Service on a weekly basis keeps drivers on a tight schedule to meet riders’ needs.

“It’s still difficult to justify more than one bus,” Dusty Zenger, administrator of the system, told Republic County Commissioners Monday. “I think we can work to schedule the day better rather than buying another bus.”

The Republic County Transportation System operates weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Usage has grown more than 30 percent over the last two years. Stacey Bowen, administrative assistant at the Republic County Highway Department, said from July 2017 to June 2018 the service averaged 276 riders per month.

In the same time period this year, the number grew to 405 riders per month. Today the bus drives 1,900 miles a month, a thousand miles more a month than two years ago.

Zenger credits two factors for the increase in use.

“We used to only offer out-of-town service two days a week,” he said. “To me, that wasn’t right to drive around Belleville everyday, and limit people in other communities to two days.”

Today, with 24-hour notice, people in the outlying areas of Republic County can access the transportation service any day of the week.

With that, however, Zenger said the service is trying to coordinate trips between riders and businesses–especially the doctors’ office and hair stylists–to consolidate regular trips to the same day.

The second factor is that the Republic County Council on Aging started to subsidize the $1 fare so the county’s senior citizens can ride for free.

“But we want to emphasize that this is not a “senior citizens” bus,” Zenger said. “It is general transportation service and any county resident or guest of the county of any age can ride.”

The increase in demand for rides means that the service may need to turn down requests for transportation if the schedule is already full that day, Zenger said. The transportation is available on a first come, first serve basis, and some days 24 different riders may request transportation, he said.

Riders are limited to three stops per ride, and some riders request transportation more than once a day, he said.

Riders who use the service for doctor’s appointments are asked to schedule appointments early in the day so that if those visits are delayed, the bus drivers can still return them to their homes before the service ends at 4 p.m.

The service has also worked to coordinate with the 81 Connection bus service that makes several trips a day between Salina and Belleville for people who want a connection for longer trips.

Two part-time drivers stagger schedules to man the wheel of the Republic County bus. Commissioner Melvin Jeardoe asked how overtime is handled for the drivers if their day runs late because a rider’s appointments run late.

“It’s reasonable drivers might have overtime occasionally on out-of-town trips,” Zenger said. “But it shouldn’t happen on a regular basis.”

Only a small part of the Transportation System’s costs are covered by local property taxes. Fifty percent of the operating costs are covered by federal sources, 20% by the State of Kansas and 30 percent locally, said Bowen. For administrative expenses, 80% are covered by federal and 20% from local funds.

The Transportation System’s 2020 budget is $77,500.


REPUBLIC COUNTY TRANSPORTATION

Contact Details County: Republic
Address: 702 K Street, Belleville, KS 66935
Phone: (785) 527-2235
Fax: (785) 527-5335
Service Profile Clientele: Elderly DisabledGeneral PublicDescription of System: First come first serve to schedule – call ahead for out of city limits with county transportation
Trips Made: Medical Personal Business Education Recreational Shopping Employment Nutrition Site
Service Area: Complete city of Belleville Mon – Fri & outside of city limits within Republic County per call ahead scheduling Mon – Thurs Fares: $1
Funding: Section 5311,
Operating Service Hours Weekdays: 10am – 4pm
Vehicles Total Vehicles: 2
Total Lift Vehicles: 2
Communications onboard: Yes