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Task Force Created To Look At Transit Service

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For some, driving or taking the bus isn't an option; they need a special type of transit service to get where they need to go. So what would happen if that service were to change or even be cut? City leaders in Sioux Falls found themselves asking that same question and they've formed a special task force to make sure that doesn't happen.

Not everyone is able to get around in their own wheels. So to ensure those who rely on the Sioux Area Metro transit service can get a ride, city leaders are putting their heads together.

Councilman Rex Rolfing said, "We're going to look at the whole system and see what we can do from the standpoint of providing better service to everybody."

The decision comes after Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether proposed to cut $160,000 from the Paratransit Service in his 2014 budget. The cut in funding would have slashed hours and changed boundaries, leaving some without their only mode of transportation. Now, city council members like Rolfing said it's time to take a look at the service.

“By federal law, we have to provide paratransit services three quarters of a mile of our bus routes," Rolfing said. "Well, there are people outside of that that we are helping."

That has left the city with a big bill. Rolfing said half of the city's $8 million transit budget goes towards paratransit services.
The cost of a rider on a paratransit bus is $27, whereas the cost of a rider on a regular bus is just $7.

That $20 difference has Rolfing and a special task force looking at how to change the transit system to make it cheaper, without affecting too many riders.

"If we need to move bus routes around after we look at this, if we need to change little things, or big things, and expanding it etcetera, (we might)," Rolfing said.

Rolfing said if the routes expand, it could allow some to ride the city bus. It would also bring more people inside the required boundary, ensuring everyone would have a ride if any budget cuts were made.

The task force will be made up of city and Sioux Area Metro leaders, as well as users of the paratransit service, and other members of the community.

The goal is to have a report done and presented to the Sioux Falls City Council within six months.
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