The Union Recorder

Local News

July 3, 2014

County transportation program looking for alternatives

MILLEDGEVILLE — For 19 years, the Section 5311 Rural Transportation program, managed through the Baldwin County Fire Department, has operated with an objective to provide cost effective mobility throughout the community.

With expected fare revenue subtracted, the Baldwin County Commissioners agreed to accept local and federal operating contributions of $46,598 and $46,597 for this July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 fiscal year. The money covers van maintenance, fuel and the drivers.

The county commissioners are interested in making the transportation system better and more efficient by potentially working with the Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) transportation system that also runs in the area.

Earlier this year, commissioners heard from the Middle Georgia Regional Commission (MGRC) Transportation and Mobility Manager Bob Rychel. The MGRC is one of three Georgia Department of Transportation pilot programs looking for better transportation coordination.

Of the 112 Georgia counties that run rural transport, 77 percent coordinate with DHS.

Middle Georgia Community Action Agency Inc. currently provides transportation administration in 10 of the MGRC’s 11-county area.

The agency’s executive director, Nancy Smith, has met with the county discussing potential services offered.

County Manager Ralph McMullen said it’s been a few months since the last meeting.

The third party administrator proposed taking over operations of the county transit program.

That wasn’t exactly what the county wanted to hear.

“We were talking about merging this program with DHS. Then we won’t have two vans going across the river where we pick up ours, and they pick up theirs,” McMullen said. “We were hoping to get those groups combined, so that one van can go and pick up both the 5311 and DHS clients. That wasn’t the case.”

The county thinks merging transportation programs locally or regionally would better pool resources to serve more people.

The Baldwin Transit consists of two vans based at the Allen Memorial Drive fire station.

One public transit services van outfitted for ambulatory persons features a wheelchair lift and has room for just one on board, as well as eight passengers. The other vehicle is a standard 15-passenger van.

Drivers carry out transport services from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Rides costing $2 per passenger per trip are reservation only.

Most of the pickups are service center for disabled children, dialysis, medical appointments and work.

McMullen said the county would meet with the MGRC and even Georgia College to identify ways to enhance rural transit.


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