Possible breakthrough emerges in talks on continuing transportation for elderly, disabled | News – Bakersfield, California

Bakersfield, California 2021-10-14 21:45:00 –

On Thursday, a possible solution emerged in the long-standing worries about how to maintain door-to-door transportation services for the local elderly and disabled.

Those familiar with this proposal say that the Golden Empire Transit District, well known as GET, will take over the operation of the so-called CTSA service operated by the North of the River Recreation and Park District over the last 23 years. He said he was looking for it.

Negotiations will continue, the boards of both organizations will need to approve the arrangement, and GET will tentatively take over the operation of the service on July 1.

If the two organizations can reach an agreement, it will be a great relief for the individuals who use the CTSA services and the organizations that serve them.

“We pray for this,” said Catherine Waldon, president and managing director of the Independence Through GRACE Foundation, Bakersfield’s day program aimed at enriching the lives of people with disabilities. About half of the participants rely on CTSA services. “If it’s the same service we’re receiving right now, and it’s a door-to-door service, I think it’s great.”

According to staff, NOR’s board of directors was scheduled to end service on Monday, December 31, as it could not keep up with the growing demand for riders. However, on Thursday, this item was removed from Monday’s agenda as negotiations with GET could open a breakthrough.

NOR’s marketing director, Lisa Planck, said it was unclear how long the negotiations would take, but the district board could be asked to vote on the proposal by the end of this year.

Karen King, CEO of GET, did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

CTSA stands for Consolidated Transportation Services Agency. Participants who are approved will call the system’s dispatch office to arrange weekday rides to destinations inside and outside Oildale, such as local clinics, shopping centers, and recreation centers.

Tickets cost $ 2 one way, but Planck says it is expected that fares will need to be raised to meet the state’s requirement that passengers pay at least 10% of the fare. Toll collection currently covers only 4 percent.

This applies to people over the age of 60, people with permanent disabilities who are obstructed from using other means of transportation, people with permanent disabilities who need to use a wheelchair, and fixed-route buses. Those who cannot.

The program’s funding comes from sources of funding, including local property taxes routed through the Khan Government Council. This year’s budget is approximately $ 1.1 million, covering five full-time employees and 14 part-time employees operating 23 vehicles.

Prior to the pandemic, the CTSA system processed up to 900 clients annually, averaging about 4,000 rides per month. From the beginning of 2020, if you travel about 2,500 times a month, you will have about 600-700 clients a year.

Plank said NOR is struggling to maintain service due to increased costs and increased workload.

“The needs have increased significantly, and not much can be provided based on the drivers and vehicles, and the funding received through KernCOG to meet those needs,” she said.

Ahron Hakimi, executive director of KernCOG, said NOR and GET had been in talks for over a year. Meanwhile, the government council has contacted various local organizations regarding the possibility of taking over the service. The request for proposal issued by the organization and extended at least twice was unresponsive.

He said the tentative arrangement reached on Thursday “seems very good for me,” but quickly emphasized that it wouldn’t happen unless the NOR and GET boards approve it.

Chris Fendrick, chairman of the Greater Bakersfield Council of the Blind, was encouraged by a potentially groundbreaking word. He holds a teaching profession five times a week. It saves him at least 3 hours he would otherwise have to spend weekdays on fixed route services.

He said GET might be the right organization to take over the service from NOR.

“Hopefully the Golden Empire Transit-and it sounds like it-will solve this for us,” he said.

Possible breakthrough emerges in talks on continuing transportation for elderly, disabled | News Source link Possible breakthrough emerges in talks on continuing transportation for elderly, disabled | News

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