Aug 21, 2012 at 8:44 am
ST. CLOUD, MN (KNSI) - Some changes could be coming for Dial-A Ride service in St. Cloud. Namely, the service, which puts a priority on serving those with disabilities, may cut their service entirely after 9 p.m. on weekdays.
The drop in late night hours could be the end of an era for public transit riders in St. Cloud. Ever since Metro Bus launched the Dial-a-Ride service in 2003, they've allowed the general public to call for a late-night rides. But to keep up with federal requirements in the Americans with Disabilities Act to provide for disabled riders during the day, those light-night runs are likely a thing of the past.
"As our system has grown over the years, we've had more and more demand on our system," Metro Bus Director of Operations Tony Kellen said. "We are finding that in order to meet the federal mandates we have to provide the complimentary service under ADA we are proposing to our board to pull back our late night general public service and reallocate those hours to the daytime to help with the ADA service demand."
The change would cut about 6 to 7,000 of Dial-a-Ride's 150,000 trips a year, not an easy decision for anyone involved, and Metro Transit will hold public meetings to gauge the response to the possible cut in Dial-A-Ride service hours.
"It's going to be a tough call, obviously our board of directors has to make that decision, but we are hoping to see what we can find out with public input meetings," Kellen said. "We do close to 150 thousand trips a year on the dial a ride system and most of that is ADA service the general public piece of it is really a quite minor piece."
Dial-A-Ride in St. Cloud is one of the few that features service to those without disabilities. The idea for the service originated as the city looked to give residents of outlying areas off of the regular fixed route options for public transportations. However now, according to Kellen, that is a luxury the transit system can no longer afford.
"A service that we are providing that really is a luxury that you don't find in many communities our size, in fact you won't find it in most communities our size, that you have a dial a ride service like our ADA service for general public users, it just is not something you see," Metro Bus Director of Operations Tony Kellen said.
The first of the public meetings on the change will be held tomorrow from noon to 1 p.m. at Sartell City Hall. Another meeting will be held Thursday at the St. Cloud Library starting at 6 p.m. with two more meetings schedule for next week.
For more information visit the Metro Transit website. Riders can also submit comments via email or traditional mail.
If the board decides to approve the cuts, Dial-a-Ride changes would begin this fall.