Bus Route Soon To Be Making Rounds
Oskaloosa, Iowa – A community bus will soon be making its way around Oskaloosa, serving the community on a fixed route three days a week.
Amy Langdon, Executive Director at the Mahaska County United Way, expects to see the first passengers catching a ride before the end of June.
The fixed bus route, as it has come to be known, initially got its legs when discussions started between 10-15 Transit and Jon Sullivan, with the OACDG, and Robin Pfalzgraf, who was the director at Love Inc.
While the project was still in the planning stages those two individuals left their positions, and with transitions at 10-15 transit, this left the bus route without a lead organizer and stalled in neutral.
Langdon, in conjuction with information learned at the monthly CAP (Community Action Partners) meetings, saw the need for a transit system to be made available for residents.
Those community groups were struggling to get people in need to the places and appointments they needed to be.
So Langdon, along with representatives from the City of Oskaloosa, talked with 10-15 Transit, to see what the cost would be to run a bus in Oskaloosa for three days a week.
Langdon said the plan has always been to run the route three days a week, to see how the route is utilized.
10-15 Transit came back with the figure of $300.00 a day to operate.
Knowing the cost, Langdon knew that was not something the City of Oskaloosa could do financially, nor would the many community partners be able to foot that bill.
“We just started looking for ways we could get that money,” Langdon said.
A program with the Iowa DOT was brought to the groups attention, of a specialized bond for the start of transit systems.
Businesses in the community are helping as well. A goal of $25,000 was set to help get the program off the ground, and Langdon said that goal was just met. The DOT will cover 80% of the cost for the first year, and 50% for the second year.
The plan is that the seed money from DOT will help the program get started by helping make the route a fixture in Oskaloosa, building towards self sufficiency.
The goal is to have the first riders on the bus June 23rd. This start date will also help in the rider reimbursements for the future. If the start had been July 1 or later, reimbursements would be a full two years later versus one year.
Utilizing a public transit system can be a scary experience the first time, Langdon, and all those involved, hope to make the experience pleasant for first time riders.
“Right now, we want people in the seats,” says Langdon.
Langdon said, “This is a community effort, not a government effort.”
“This was a group of people who came together and said, ‘We need to fix a problem,'” Langdon added.