PATS program seeks state grant funds
Published 9:45 pm Tuesday, April 26, 2011
The Pike County Commission and the cities of Troy and Brundidge are seeking more than $200,000 in annual state grants for the operation of the PATS transportation system.
Alton Starling, Troy City Clerk, said the Pike Area Transportation System is an invaluable resource for local-area citizens.
“It’s basically a federal transportation program that subsidizes transportation within Pike County and all the communities so that as gas prices increase it will help the people with transportation and also help people with not having to purchase vehicles,” Starling said. “If they project gas prices to go up to $6 a gallon, then we’re sure to see the service used more and more,” Starling said.
Michelle Williams, office manager dispatcher, said she also believes the rising gas prices will attract more patrons and the charge for transportation will help citizens of Pike County, because it will keep them from having to pay “outrageous gas prices.”
Public transportation fares are $2 per one-way trip of up to nine miles; $3 per one-way trip of 10-20 miles; and any trip more than 20 miles will be arranged by dispatch and children under 5 ride free of charge.
“People can just ride the transit for the $2 a trip, which comes to about $4 a day,” Williams said. “If you’re driving your vehicle, it’s going to cost a whole lot more.”
Williams said the customers who usually use the service are people traveling to and from work. “When summer comes, we usually transport elderly citizens that may be on their way to the grocery store, we transport a lot of patients to their dialysis, and we also make trips to Montgomery or Dothan for doctor’s appointments,” Williams said. The cost to travel to Dothan is $40; to Montgomery, $30.
Starling said he doesn’t believe the cost of using the public transportation system will rise, even to offset the rising cost of gas. “I don’t think the cost will go up any more than what it is for us, because people will utilize the services more,” Starling said. “If you’ve got six people riding as opposed to two people riding, then that will certainly help matters.”
Both Williams and Starling agreed about the importance of the transportation service and said the grant will help to make an already good service even better. The grant would cover approximately $131,000 in operating expenses and around $80,000 administrative expenses. The program is supplemented by local funding.
A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, May 17, at 10 a.m. in the Council Chambers at the Troy City Hall.