PATS to continue operating as usual

Published 3:00 am Saturday, September 29, 2018

Service for the Pike Area Transit System is expected to remain unchanged after the county commission voted not to provide extra funding to expand the services this year.

“When (PATS Director Donta Frazier) came to us, he said there were some increases in the budget, but we don’t have to do it,” said Chad Copeland, District 4 commissioner. “We decided to leave it in the budget funded at the levels we had it last year. Any increased funding he wants, he’ll have to find other ways to fund it.”

The commission had been looking at what level of funding it could continue to provide to the program since last year as they searched for ways to conserve money and reroute it to other pressing needs such as local road repair.

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The commission Monday passed a budget that included $81,500 for the program, the same amount set aside for the service last year.

Frazier had requested earlier this year that the county provide $107,000 in the upcoming year after getting approval from state officials to provide more matching funds if the local governments spent more on the program.

The Alabama Department of Transportation matches 80 percent of operational costs and 50 percent of administrative costs.

The split of the locally contributed funding is nearly even between Troy and Pike County, based on population.

Troy Mayor Jason Reeves said no capital expenditures are planned for the program, meaning no additional buses would be purchased or other items that would expand the service. But the funding will continue to support the program as it is today, Reeves said.

“I anticipate the program moving forward as is for the time being,” Reeves said. “The money that the county has allocated will keep the program running certainly for a while. I don’t see any issues immediately with changes to operations.”

Although Frazier would have appreciated additional revenue, he said he is glad that the county is still participating and keeping the program going.

“My biggest thing is we wanted to make sure the county still participated in it,” Frazier said. “We don’t want to cut any transportation. That’s the biggest part is that they’re still involved. I’m happy the residents will still receive some transportation. That was the biggest concern; I’m just glad the county decided to stay with it.”

Frazier reports that the bus service makes 100 to 150 pickups each day including the transportation of Pike County residents to and from work, international students to and from Troy University, and dialysis patients to and from their treatments.

The total budget for the program totals nearly $775,000. The program is available to all residents in Pike County with fares varying based on mileage.

Trips between 0 and 9 miles (one-way) are $2, between 10 and 20 miles (one-way) are $3, between 21-30 miles (one-way) are $4, and trips over 30 miles will be negotiated by the planner. Any additional stops will be $1. There is no charge for children under 10 years of age. Monthly passes are available for $70 or $60 for Seniors ages 60 and over.

Rides must be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance. Scheduling calls can be made between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. at 334-674-2451 for riders in the Troy area and 888-PIKE-VAN for riders outside the city.

All passengers from health care facilities, nursing homes and assisted living residences are required to be accompanied by an assistant. There is no charge for the assistant, with regular charges for the passenger.

The vans are on the roads from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.