Do You Need A Ride?
Southern Missouri Community Health Center and Ozark Medical Clinics located in West Plains and in clinics located in Thayer are seeing the benefits of public transit. Beginning the referral process July 2014 with SMTS and Ozarks Medical Centers in-patient release programs HealthTran has been in a learning curve. Adjusting the referral process, learning the ropes, and building communication, HealthTran is ready to expand both inside and outside of West Plains to more health partners and locations in Texas, Howell, and Oregon Counties. By the end of the year, Missouri Ozarks Community Health will be sending referrals for the Cabool clinic and Ozarks Medical Clinics in Alton, Mountain Grove, Mountain View, and Willow Springs. Clinic staff will be asking patients “Do you need a ride?”
With communities hearing about the benefits and services of HealthTran in getting to health services, more referrals are coming in and additional transit options are needed. The West Plains Transit System (WPTS), the newest partner of HealthTran came on board to provide transportation to the citizens of West Plains starting in September for those who need a ride to medical appointments within city limits of West Plains.
WPTS is a member of the Missouri Public Transit Association and learned about HealthTran during a visit earlier this summer. During the visit, HealthTran staff was excited to learn just what WPTS had to offer and WPTS, Transit Manager, Mike Falwell could see the benefits of working together. “There was a lot of misinformation and lack of understanding on just what services WPTS offered at that first meeting. After talking with Mike and his staff, we felt positive about working together to provide rides for preventative care, dental, follow up visits, and other health related needs.” says Mary Gordon, HealthTran Project Manager. “We are very pleased to have Mike Falwell and West Plains Transit System Get Link’d to HealthTran.”
HealthTran visited Licking Bridge Builders, LLC an MPTA member who provides Texas County citizens in Licking and the surrounding towns’ transportation with everything from local visits to the Senior Center to long-distance rides to the VA in Columbia. During the September 29 visit, HealthTran met with Cindy Wampner, Transportation Co-Chair and knew right away LBB would make a great asset to riders with a health need. Mrs. Wampner and her staff are fully onboard to meet the needs of local citizens. “Were just waiting to begin the Cabool clinic referrals and start the referral process with Cindy and her staff” stated Mary Gordon, HealthTran Project Manager.
A new MPTA member, South Howell Medical Transports, located in West Plains, provides non-emergency medical transportation to West Plains and surrounding communities. The service offers transports with ambulatory, wheelchair, and stretcher needs as well as some other special needs. With a service open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week and all holidays, the new member is able to fill a gap in services. A department of South Howell County EMS, Jim McGee, Administrator, runs an impressive operation. Mr. McGee and his staff are developing a training room dedicated to improving the quality of service with dusk to dawn lighting, fog option, special scene set-ups, and video capability to view the action scenario for critiquing staff actions. HealthTran thanks SHMT staff for the warm welcome and wonderful tour.
HealthTran Coordinator, Sandra Morris, takes the time to understand the needs and barriers of the HT riders and works both sides of health and transit to arrange rides that meet the patient’s needs. Over the past three months, during direct assessments, she is discovering the hidden barriers that rural residents face with transportation. Mrs. Morris is working to bridge gaps and bring awareness to her community of the great opportunity to Get Link’d to HealthTran.
October 12th, 2014 by Cynthia Shahan
How much have we changed as a society due to the greater diversity of transportation choices made by Millennials? Has the automobile seen it’s heyday?
The latest Census data from the 2013 American Community Survey examines changes of younger and older commuters — focusing on the country’s largest metropolitan areas. Millennials and Generation Xers are apparently more multimodal than those of previous generations. Consideration and use of mass transit, biking, walking, as well as driving are in the mix of their choices.
Unlike Europe, where people count on mass transit in many situations and it is readily there for them, the US has for six decades been an automobile-led society. Millennials identify with the automobiles differently than baby boomers who are perhaps too attached to them, however. Millennials go for diversity of modes, including public transportation and walking, while the numbers still show very high levels of car use by baby boomers.
Economics and practicality play a large part into this trend towards reduced driving. The trend, however, exists even among young people who are doing well financially with gainful employment. More people choose an apartment or house while considering proximity to good transit.
The new Census data estimate that over 85% of all workers still get to their jobs by private automobile. According to Brookings, this is also “relatively consistent with our commuting patterns from 1980, when nearly the same percentage of workers commuted by car.” Although, Brookings continues by pointing out that those long-term trends mask real changes over the past few years.
“The share of national commuters traveling by private vehicle is edging down for the first time in decades—from 86.5 percent in 2007 to 85.8 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, other transportation modes have grown in relative importance.”
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Jefferson City transit riders may face a potential fare increase in the next fiscal year.
At the Budget Committee meeting Tuesday, council members heard presentations on the transit and public works budget. Public Works Director Matt Morasch highlighted several aspects of the transit budget, including the proposed 50 cent fare increase. Currently, the fare for JeffTran riders is $1 and the fares have not been raised since 2007. Morasch specified that any fare increase would require public hearings before implementation.
The proposed increase is estimated to bring in an additional $30,000 of revenue to the transit division.
Morasch said the department also is working on how to accommodate service to the new St. Mary’s Health Center on Mission Drive within its existing service. Mayor Eric Struemph allocated $25,000 in his draft budget to allow for that addition. Morasch said it is a challenge and staff is continuing to work on how routes will be modified to add the new stop and keep their 40-minute headways.
“We’re thinking it may take three route modifications to do this,” Morasch said.
Moving into the overall Public Works Department, Morasch noted several positions that have been eliminated as well as issues with a continually aging fleet of vehicles that will need to be replaced.
Morasch said the engineering division has lost 75 percent of its design staff since last year and is down to one person. Two employees left last year when the city offered a separation incentive program and another position was eliminated after Morasch was promoted to department director from his former position as city engineer. The city eliminated the engineering supervisor position when David Bange, who previously held that title, moved to the city engineer position late last year.
But another long-term issue likely will be the department’s vehicles. Throughout his presentations Tuesday, Morasch continually spoke about the city’s deferred maintenance on vehicles and how, at some point, they will need to be replaced.
Operations Division Director Britt Smith said the street division alone has roughly $6 million worth of vehicles and $2.9 million of that is at or past its service life. He said it would require a $250,000 annual investment from the city to stabilize that life expectancy, without improvement, but it would take a $500,000 annual investment to improve the overall fleet to where city staff believe it should be.
“We know that money doesn’t just happen,” Smith said. “We don’t want to be on an unsustainable path.”
Council members took no action on the issue of the aging fleet, but did make two changes to the proposed budget. The council unanimously approved a motion to place $18,900 on the parking lot to fund a new global navigation satellite system in the engineering division. Morasch had described the item as their number one unfunded priority in that division, describing the system as a survey instrument.
Morasch said it’s a seven-year-old computer used daily for design and construction, as well as accident surveys for the Police Department. He said the system often fails to connect and will need to be replaced soon. Third Ward Councilman Bob Scrivner, who made the motion to fund the item, said the system often can take one or two hours to connect and, when the police need an accident site surveyed, that can cause delays in reopening highways.
“If we’re going to ask our staff to do more with less, this is one area where we need to give them more rather than less,” Scrivner said.”
The council also unanimously approved a motion to place funds for six pink sheet items of the wastewater division on the parking lot. Because the wastewater division is an enterprise fund, it is self-sufficient and all funds for new items would come from the division’s reserve fund, having no affect on the city’s general fund.
The wastewater division currently has more than $6 million in reserves. The items placed on the parking lot Tuesday were:Replacing sewers in the Woodward subdivision — cost of $120,000;
Pump replacement at the Westview Heights pump station — cost of $20,000;
Eliminating the Sharron Drive pump station — cost of $350,000;
Replacing blowers at the treatment plant — cost of $670,000;
Replacing a Jetter truck — cost of $250,000; and
Replacing the security lighting at the treatment plant — cost of $9,000.
The Budget Committee will meet again at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall and is expected to discuss the Planning and Protective Services Department, followed by all administrative sections of the budget.
Posted 09/09/2014 by Lenora Fisher
Senator McCaskill’s office just announced that TIGER Grants were approved for capital funding for the St. Louis CORTEX MetroLink station and CWE Station upgrades and MO River Bridge in Washington, MO. Approximately $10.3 million was awarded to the Cortex project specifically.
TIGER funds are highly competitive, federal grant monies for infrastructure projects. The funds are designated for major national and regional transportation projects that are difficult to pursue governmental funding for. This year, the DOT received 797 applications totaling $9.5 billion, 15 times the $600 million available. This is a momentous moment for transit, Metro, Missouri and the St. Louis region.
The TIGER award for the project was made possible by completion of the feasibility study Citizens for Modern Transit led earlier this year. In partnership with area stakeholders, the study represented a true public-private partnership that raised the local match to pay for the study and to team with Metro to manage the project and move it forward.
“As a transit advocacy organization, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to work proactively and collaboratively with stakeholders in the region, Metro and others to complete the necessary feasibility study and move the process forward for an additional station on the MetroLink alignment. Congrats go to the stakeholders and Metro for ensuring St. Louis sees more MetroLink now in much nearer future. This is an opportunity for a true TOD in ST. Louis where residents can live, work and play on transit,” said Kim Cella, executive director of Citizens for Modern Transit.
The study was prompted by growth in the study area and the need to consider the merits of transit improvements requested by area stakeholders and to adhere to an FTA study process for making changes to Federal assets.
Of the projects funded, McCaskill said, “After seeing these projects firsthand earlier this year, I knew that new resources would mean more jobs and more economic opportunities for for our state-and that’s why I’m thrilled to make this announcement. These grants are competitive, and are awarded based on merit, so Missourians can be confident that these are worthy investments that will strengthen Missouri’s economy.”
BY MIKE HENDRICKS
THE KANSAS CITY STAR
08/15/2014 6:48 PM
Updated 08/15/2014 6:59 PM
The longtime general manager of Kansas City’s bus system has resigned at the outset of a plan to reorganize the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority.
Mark Huffer, whose resignation is effective next Friday, has headed The Metro since 2000.
He is leaving as the ATA board is trying to position itself as the metrowide coordinating body for transit, the role it was meant to fill when it was created a half century ago.
Huffer worked on the reorganization plan and said the timing was right for him to step aside.
“KCATA is well positioned for the future, and I have no doubt that it will continue to thrive,” he said in a statement.
During his tenure, Huffer modernized Kansas City’s bus system. He oversaw the addition of the two MAX bus rapid transit lines, added real-time passenger information and began converting the diesel fleet to compressed natural gas.
Huffer will be replaced on an interim basis by Sam Desue, the current vice president of operations and chief operating officer.
But the job of ATA general manager is being reconfigured. The ATA board plans to create a new chief executive officer position to oversee a reorganized transit authority with broader goals than running a single bus system.
In addition to overseeing operation of The Metro, the CEO would work toward blending The Metro with the area’s three other bus systems.
Johnson County; Kansas City, Kan.; and Independence all would continue to own their own bus systems, but under the plan they would coordinate more with the ATA than they do now. The aim, ATA officials said, is to increase that cooperation to the point that the average passenger would perceive it to be a single system.
The ATA also hopes to build closer ties with Kansas City’s streetcar authority.
“I’m really excited about the direction of the ATA,” said board chairman Robbie Makinen, who praised Huffer for his service.
Makinen, who represents Jackson County, and fellow board member Steve Klika from Johnson County have been pushing to reorganize the ATA for a couple of years. They see the ATA as the vehicle to unify the area’s transit systems and fill the many service gaps.
That was supposed to be its role when the ATA was created in 1965 by agreement between Missouri and Kansas to take the place of the private bus systems then operating. The bistate compact approved by Congress gives the ATA the power to plan, construct, own and operate public transportation systems in the seven-county metro area.
But although the compact gives the ATA broad authority to provide public transit services, it’s never had a dedicated source of local funding other than Kansas City taxpayers.
As such, other jurisdictions set up their own systems or dropped public transit entirely.
Under the new plan, the ATA will try to increase cooperative efforts beyond those that currently exist, which includes the ATA’s metrowide call center. The CEO would oversee divisions responsible for regional planning and development of public transportation, as well as service delivery, The Metro and four other support areas.
Makinen and Klika said key announcements are upcoming. For instance, the ATA and Johnson County are currently in discussions to take over the administrative responsibilities for The Jo bus system.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” Klika said of the unified system he and Makinen envision. But it’s heading that way, they said.
To begin, we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to you for supporting Amendment 7.
While we know Amendment 7 was the best option for Missourians, they have proved time and time again they dislike tax increases, and unfortunately this measure was no exception. We spent eight years traveling the state, talking to citizens, and working with lawmakers to formulate this solution, but the less than receptive attitude in combination with other tax policy changes this year were just too much to overcome. However, what we can all be proud of is the formation of one of the strongest coalitions in the state and a tremendous campaign against difficult odds. This hard work is reflected in the wide variety of supporters—groups who normally are at odds banded together to push for this measure joined forces for the betterment of our state.
Even though the measure did not pass, we feel tremendous steps were made in educating the public about the problems facing our transportation system. The funding crisis is not going to improve, it will only get worse, and we are not going to stop working to find a solution. We commend you all for working so diligently to educate friends, neighbors, and coworkers about the needs of our transportation infrastructure, and, hopefully, voters will be more receptive to the next proposal.
Looking to the future, we hope to be able to count on your support for the next transportation measure. After years of working to find the answer to transportation funding, we hope to soon find a solution that is both practical and passable.
Once again, we cannot fully express how thankful we are for the support you have offered our coalition during this campaign.
Bill McKenna and Rudy Farber
Paid for by Missourians for Safe Transportation and New Jobs, Bill McKenna, Treasurer