Transit Discontinued?

March 3, 2014 at 6:22 pm Leave a comment


By Andrew Richter

When you listen to the brainless idiots at the Met council and Hennepin County you’d think everyone is demanding more transit but here is a story that contradicts that;

The Five Cities Executive Committee met Feb. 26 and unanimously voted to discontinue the Five Cities Transportation program. Faced with diminishing demand for the service and increased costs, the committee – comprised of the New Hope, Crystal, Golden Valley, Robbinsdale, and Brooklyn Center city managers – voted unanimously to end the program, which helped seniors citizens in those cities get to grocery stores, doctor’s offices and more.

Declining demand and increasing costs? Sounds like Northstar and Hiawatha.

The decision came after the PRISM social service agency, which supplied buses to Five Cities, cancelled its own similar transportation program in mid-October 2013. PRISM’s decision put Five Cities in the position of being a transportation program without any means of transport for its clients.

At a Dec. 12 meeting, the committee weighed its options and generally agreed that the program was heavily subsidized and was serving a diminishing number of riders each year.

All transit is heavily subsidized!

Each city contributed roughly $14,000 annually to Five Cities. Most of the money went towards subsidizing round-trip bus rides, which typically cost riders only a few dollars each. Because ridership had been steadily declining, thus providing less fare money to make up the difference, the amount subsidized per ride had steadily increased.

In 2011, Robbinsdale Recreation Programs Manager Pam Schmitz said, the organization subsidized between $6.80 and $7.06 per ride. In 2012, the number rose to between $7.37 and $7.62 in subsidy per ride.

$8 in subsidies!!!!

Five Cities served 413 riders in 2011 and 474 riders in 2012, according to documents supplied at the Feb. 26 meeting. The organization served 793 riders in 1995, and with the exception of a peak in 2001 when 747 seniors used the service, ridership had steadily been declining since that year.

At the Feb. 26 meeting, Robbinsdale City Manager Marcia Glick mentioned that the program, which started in 1986, was conceived of in a time when many seniors were less mobile. Senior women, she said as an example, often relied on their husbands to drive them. “That need is not the same need as there is today,” she said.

All five city managers mentioned that they had received little feedback since announcing the program’s possible cancellation in December. “I’ve heard nothing,” said Brooklyn Center City Manager Curt Boganey. “One email,” said Golden Valley City Manager Tom Burt. “Either the demand is no longer there or they’re finding other alternatives,” Boganey said, referring to seniors.

Then let’s get rid of MORE transit! No Bottineau!!!!!

“I don’t mean to sound heartless,” prefaced Crystal City Manager Anne Norris, before saying that she sympathized with former riders, but didn’t think the program could continue at its current heavily subsidized rate.

At both the Dec. 12 and Feb. 26 meetings, committee members were in general agreement that seniors also used the program as a social outlet. While no plans have been finalized, the idea of using city money previously dedicated to the transportation program for senior social programs was floated. “Folks can find ways to the gas station. It’s that social side,” Burt said.

Oh yippy! More money for the cities to spend!

In a Feb. 27 phone interview, he said that the money Golden Valley will get back after the dissolution of the program will go into new senior programming, details for which are in development. Those new programs will, hopefully, be implemented as soon as the fall of 2014, but may have to wait until 2015, Burt said.

A letter is being drafted to Five Cities’ riders notifying them of the discontinuance. In 1985, the cities of Brooklyn Center, Crystal, Golden Valley, New Hope, and Robbinsdale entered into a Joint Powers Agreement to sponsor a program offering transportation to their adult population age 60 and older and persons with disabilities. That agreement will be formally dissolved at future council meetings of each of the cities entered in it.

And the failures of transit continue……

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Entry filed under: Agenda 21, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, City Government, Community, County, Golden Valley, New Hope, Robbinsdale, Transportation. Tags: , .

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