July 26, 2014

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Public transit helps local residents

(originally published 01/05/12)

By Jody Woltman

Star-Gazette publisher

Photo caption:

IVRT Board president Tim Ward (L), Board member David Parrish, Cass County Board Charirman (R), and IRVT Director Elton Trojniar seated on one of the transit buses.

 

Need a lift? Want to save on gas? Going to the airport or train station? Illinois River Valley Public Transit (IRVT) is your answer.

IRVT has been in the works for four years. It started with a group of “stakeholders” which was composed of community leaders. Their goal was to determine what needs existed in the area and what services were already available and how to best coordinate those services in to a transit system that served the needs of existing clients while also opening services to the general public.

Rural Public Transit is a federal program that has been in existence in parts of southern Illinois for over 30 years. In the last decade it has gained popularity and now you will find this type of program or the beginnings of it in almost all counties in Illinois.

The stakeholder group has since transitioned into an advisory counsel that aids the transit system with public relations, advice, and knowledge of the communities needs. Members and officers include: Tim Ward – President – Culbertson Hospital, David Parish – Vice President – Cass County Board Chairman, Kay Patterson – Secretary – Cass County Health Department, Patty Brewer – Cass County Council on Aging, Nance Bryant – Ashland resident, Bob Burget – Beardstown City Council, Eleanor Cosner – Ashland resident, Daron Grant – Cass County Human Resource Center, Eva Lynn – Cass County Board, Linda Mahoney – Ashland resident, Max McClelland – Schuyler County Board Chairman, Joyce Prather – Schuyler County Senior Center, Stacy Rock – Cass County Human Resource Center and Carrie Skiles – Schuyler County Health Department. The advisory counsel is not a governing board or funding board of any kind but does play a vital role as both an oversight committee and as a resource to increase the level and quality of service.

Funding for the program comes from three main areas. First, funding comes from programs that were already providing transit in the communities that are served. The amount of local transportation funding is considered local contribution or local match from a federal grant. The federal grant, known as the 5311 Rural Public Transit, is the main funding source that allows the program to exists and covers 50% of the operating costs up to a limit that is defined by the number of residents in the service area. The state of Illinois also plays a role in funding through its Down State Operating Assistance grant. This is a state program developed to help communities in Illinois gain access to federal dollars and is considered by transit professionals to be a progressive and ‘transit friendly’ program.

IRVT Director Elton Trojniar added “There are other grants that we plan to peruse that will allow us to grow, increase efficiency and gain sustainability which include the Federal 5310 Consolidated Vehicle Procurement (CVP) grant. 5310 allows us to apply for replacement and expansion vehicles to add to our fleet. There is also a New Freedom grant which will help us update our fleet and services to better serve the disabled population, and the Job/Access and Reverse Commute grant may be in our future to expand work related transportation.”

“All of the funding sources have different beginnings; however, they all have a similar end which is to give rides to those in the community who need it. Many people do not think about it because they drive their own car, but the quality of life for those who have no way to get around is severely decreased. With our main goal being to help those in the community who need transportation we are also an economic development driver and an environmentally friendly program,” said Trojniar.

The transit services have been utilized for doctor’s appointments, shopping, transport to airports and more. Services are available to Cass and Schuyler County residents on a demand-response basis. Simply call and request transit services and enjoy the ride.

Unless a pre-arranged contract has been established, rates for basic services are: $2.00-one way trips within town, $3.00-one way trips within the counties, $5.00-one way trips to Jacksonville - Mt. Sterling, $7.50-one way trips to Springfield, Macomb or Quincy and $1.00 for incidental trips or additional stops. Seniors (60+) are based on donations.  Discounted passes are available at 25% off for recurring rides scheduled a month in advance. An additional 25% off is available if the recurring ride happens within non-peak hours of 9:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m. All rides that utilize existing routes receive 50% off. If a passenger has an aide, aides ride at no charge. The services are “curb” services, and can accommodate handicap and wheelchair passengers.

An open house and ribbon cutting ceremony was held Wednesday, December 28 at both the Cass County location, 121 E. 2nd Street in the Human Resource Center, Beardstown and at the Schuyler County location, 250 N. Monroe, Senior Citizens Center, Rushville.

To contact IRVT, call 217-323-4512 or toll-free at 1-855-803-RIDE (7433).