EDMOND — Edmond's paratransit bus service for people with disabilities is running at capacity while rider requests continue to grow, leaving Edmond officials trying to figure out a solution.
Citylink's paratransit service provided 8,453 rides last fiscal year, up from 3,520 rides in 2009-10, when the system started operation.
Paratransit service is an alternative mode of flexible passenger transportation that does not follow fixed routes or schedules. People who have a doctor's letter can apply for the service. Patrons can call up to two weeks in advance to schedule a bus to come to their doors and take them to a medical appointment or run an errand.
The city receives federal money to help fund the service, which includes one bus and one driver dedicated to the paratransit service designed to cover the entire city limits. There is no charge to ride any of the Citylink buses.
The Americans with Disabilities Act sets regulations for the paratransit service.
“We are booked solid every day of the week,” John Pleveich, Edmond's new McDonald Transit general manager, told members of the Edmond Public Transportation Committee this week. “We are right at maximum capacity right now. We keep getting new clients.”
Each month, the paratransit service gets 10 to 12 new applications.
“We are told not to deny transportation for these people,” Pleveich said.
City councilwoman Victoria Caldwell said the law would allow the city to reduce the coverage area to a three-quarter-mile circle around the fixed routes, which would reduce the number of riders in the outer areas of the city.
Pleveich estimated 10 percent of the clients live outside the three-quarter-mile area. At least 80 percent of the paratransit clients are ambulatory.
“Money is already an issue,” said Caldwell, chairwoman of the Edmond Public Transportation Committee.
The Citylink budget is $1.4 million. Money comes from federal funding and a $200,437 payment from the University of Central Oklahoma where students use the bus. City council members this year had to give Citylink an additional $50,000 because of federal funding cutbacks.
The transportation committee and city leaders are asking for bids to hire a consulting service to study additional revenue sources for the city bus service. The bid deadline is Aug. 7. The results of the study may be more than a year away, too late to address the immediate problem with the paratransit service.
Transportation committee members requested additional information from McDonald Transit, the company that operates Edmond's bus service. They will meet at 4 p.m. Aug. 8 at 10 S Littler Ave. to consider options. A meeting with the riders and the public also will be held. The city council will make the final decision.