Rides hike hurts disabled
TO THE EDITOR:
Genesis Development would like to raise awareness of a recent decision made by RTA, the public transit system, which will affect all users of the public bus system here in Storm Lake.
In the past RTA tickets have been available through Genesis for $1 per ride. These tickets were purchased by people served by Genesis to go to medical appointments, to run errands or go to their jobs in Storm Lake, and thereby increasing their independence. In the past three months, 1,600 rides were purchased at this rate.
Because of cutbacks to RTA of federal and state subsidies, these rides will now be costing $3.50 (one-way) in Storm Lake. This is an increase of 350 percent. According to Rose Lee, the director of RTA, since the subsidies are reduced, the additional expense to the public transit system will have to fall back on the riders by increasing bus fares. As bus riders were given only a few days notice of this change, many were not able to budget their limited funds for this increase. At the same time, hours of service became less convenient, because taxi hours were cut back from 10 p.m. each weeknight to only two nights per week.
This significant increase in the cost of a bus ride on the public transportation system in Storm Lake is causing a great deal of hardship for the people with limited incomes. Gaining and keeping a job in the community will become much more difficult with this increased expense. One person has already left their part-time job at a local restaurant because they believed they could not afford to pay $7 per day to get back and forth from their job, where they worked 2 1/2 hours per day, six days a week. Over half their daily income was needed for the bus fare! Others are scrambling to find someone to give them a ride to their job, as they cannot meet this expense. People who are capable of attending medical appointments by themselves may not go at all if they cannot afford the bus fare. Transportation to all the recreational and shopping opportunities this community has to offer has just become prohibitively expensive for many people.
Public transportation systems were designed to increase the ability of persons with disabilities and others to affordably get around their community. City and county taxpayer dollars support the RTA system, along with state and federal tax dollars. These tax dollars are now supporting a system that has, in practical application, become a barrier rather than a support. Genesis believes strongly in our responsibility to advocate for the people who are impacted very directly - and negatively - on a consistent basis by the public transportation in Storm Lake and Buena Vista County.
Genesis believes it's important that the public and those significant in the lives of persons with disabilities understand the challenges these individuals face on a day-to-day basis. Genesis has had discussions about these issues with county supervisors, and will continue to work with elected officials, families and community members toward dependable, affordable local transportation for all people. To voice your opinion or comments about the prohibitively expensive public transportation in this county, please contact your elected city council and county board of supervisor members.