Transit firm considers extending its service

Rider survey offered as contract is renewed

June 28, 2000|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Although Carroll County residents have consistently thwarted plans to extend public transportation to Baltimore, they might support an expanded Carroll Transit, a system that operates 25 vehicles in the county.

Senior citizens, who account for 65 percent of Carroll Transit's business, often tell the Bureau of Aging they would like the system to operate in the evenings and on weekends. Carroll Transit vehicles run from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. The company provided more than 103,000 rides last year.

"We've got a survey on the street, to determine whether there is enough need to support expanding our service," said James O. Mathis, executive director of Carroll Transit.

The survey is being conducted by a committee that was formed by Carroll Transit System Advisory Board and Carroll County Commission on Aging.

The county renewed its contract with the transportation service yesterday, allowing the private, nonprofit company to continue providing rides within the county to the elderly and disabled.

Carroll Transit also has contracts with schools and agencies, such as Carroll County Health Department, to transport people to and from medical appointments.

Carroll Transit has been providing service to Carroll residents since the early 1970s, and entered into its current contract with the county in October 1998, county officials said. The contract, which ends June 30, 2003, must be renewed annually.

Under the agreement unanimously approved by the commissioners yesterday, Carroll Transit will be paid $501,600 to provide service in fiscal year 2001, which begins July 1 - a 4 percent increase over this fiscal year, when the company earned $482,300.

Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier expressed concern about whether the transit system takes business from local taxi companies, and questioned the 4 percent increase in overall funding - even though the county's contribution will drop by about $21,000.

The decrease in county dollars was attributed to a corresponding increase in state and federal funding, based on Carroll's demographics.

In the new budget year, Carroll is expected to receive state and federal transportation grants totaling $287,413 to help pay for the transit system. As a result, the county will only be liable for $214,187.

Carroll contributed more than $235,000 to the transit system this fiscal year, with state and federal grants making up the balance.

According to county staff, the 4 percent increase was based on the consumer price index for the northeast portion of the United States.

"We're very pleased," Mathis said of the commissioners' decision. "This service allows more residents in the county to remain independent."

The transportation survey, designed for people of all ages to voice their opinions on Carroll's transportation needs, is available at county library branches and senior centers.

Committee members plan to review results of the ridership survey next month.

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