07.09.12 (LAS CRUCES) – Passengers depending on a free transportation program offered through the City of Las Cruces may soon be paying for it.
The Dial-A-ride program depends heavily on donations to keep the cost to consumers free, but the economy may be impacting its operations.
“It’s always been donation based type of a system, but we really don’t’ get much in the way of donations at all, on our vans from the senior program,” said Mike Bartholonew is the transit administrator. He’s exploring ways to keep the program running.
“In the City of Las Cruces, we’ve have two different programs, we have the traditional ADA, Americans with Disabilities program and we have the Senior Transportation program. Prior to 1995, I believe it was the senior transportation program was run by the Senior Center and after that the city ruled the two programs together, both running out of the transit office,” he said.
The program use to receive money from a grant through the Area Agency on Aging to help offset the cost of operating the service. Bartholonew says the program gets a lot of passangers.
“We’re anticipating 55,000 plus trips provided this year on dial-a-ride of those about 40,000 will be senior trips and a balance will be the 88 trips,” he said.
Bartholonew sent a survey out in early June and he’s currently putting data together to present his findings to the various boards over looking the program. He is hoping to start charging two dollars for a one-way ride, which is the amount ADA users pay.
“I understand it’s a concern, it’s been something that’s always been free. The Dial-A-Ride service is very expensive to operate because its what we call point to point. You schedule a ride, we pick you up and we take you to the next point so it cost about 24 dollars per trip to operate it in a typical years compared to about four dollars per trip on a fix route, so its much more expensive to operate, the Dial-A-Ride,” he said.
Bartholonew says the Dial-A-Ride program has become a heavy burden on his budget and its affected the ability to expand its fix-route program. If approved, Bartholonew hopes to implement the new two dollar cost by January 1, 2013.