All county officials questioned agree the rural transport program is essential though inefficient.
Commissioner Johnny Westmoreland, District 5, and McMullen sat with the Middle Georgia Regional Commission (MGRC) recently pushing a proposed Regional Transportation Program initiative. Designed to run through the MGRC, the plan wanted to pool state resources to provide more efficient rural transport services.
The MGRC informed the Baldwin County Commissioners earlier this month as of July 1 it would no longer be the prime contractor with the Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) for the provision of transport throughout the region, which in effect killed the initiative.
“By pooling these funds, you could have a larger more efficient operation. Personally, that is the way to go. That would bring more resources to the table. We were very hopeful, until we got the bad news,” McMullen said.
Westmoreland said the system would continue as always though brainstorming solutions like working with Georgia College or local taxi companies might help.
“I know the program is needed. I do have some problems with it. It’s costing the county some money. It’s money we really don’t have,” Westmoreland said.
Other commissioners see failed marketing as the revenue enemy.
“I would love for more people to know more about it. That way we could utilize more people taking advantage of it,” Commissioner Tommy French, District 2, said. “Those few extra dollars would go further. Several people have no idea it even exists.”
Commission Chair Sammy Hall, District 3, suggests a fee increase would help the current operating procedure.
“It’s costing us $9 per rider per trip. That’s an extremely expensive operation in my opinion,” Hall said. “I’d like to see some sort of improvements to increase ridership or the fee.”
Hall admitted more riders would most likely stress Baldwin Transit’s two vans to a breaking point considering they already struggle to reach all clients. The county chairman welcomes help from other parties toward finding a method to purchase another van.