SIKESTON - Since the Scott County Transit began offering transportation for local citizens in 1981, the program has grown by leaps and bounds. However, after a recent 30 percent budget cut, the transit will be forced to take a small step back.
The cut is a result of reduced funding of the Work Force Investment Board, which provides the majority of funds for the transit.
"It is a pretty severe cut for us," said Marilyn Schlosser, executive director of the Scott County Transit. "However, it appears as if we are not going to have to cut any trips or alter our everyday transit business."
One program has been dropped due to the decreased funding. The transit will no longer provide transportation for those participating in Job Access Reverse Commute, formerly known as the Welfare to Work program, which provided transportation to work for those previously on welfare.
Instead of having the transit provide transportation, the WFIB is working with companies to pay certain workers a stipend to set up car pools and provide transportation for fellow employees who cannot easily commute.
"Besides dropping the Job Access Reverse Commute, we also had to let go of three part-time and one full-time employee," said Schlosser.
Despite the cuts, Schlosser is confident the transit will serve its passengers in the same capacity as before.
"We will most likely not have to cut any trips, but we will have to be very frugal in the trips we do," said Schlosser.
In the next few weeks, the transit will hand out letters to its passengers explaining the situation.
"We just have to let them know there might be a little longer waits," said Schlosser. "If the passengers could give us sooner notice of their desired trips, that would help us out a lot."
If the burden becomes too great for the transit, Schlosser said they might have to begin fundraising efforts.
"So far, it doesn't look like we'll have to fund raise, but as the year progresses we will see how it goes, especially if gas goes higher," said Schlosser. "We would rather fund raise though before we cut our number of trips."
Currently, the transit offers 150 one-way trips per day for the citizens of Scott County.
"People of any age are invited to take advantage of our service," said Schlosser. "Early on there was a misconception that we only provided rides to the elderly, but that is not true. People of all ages are riding with us now."
Cost of a one-way trip for the elderly or disabled is a suggested $1 donation for in-town trips. For other riders, the price is variable in accordance to the distance traveled. The transit also makes visits to Cape three days a week.
"The transit is extremely important for many people across the area," said Schlosser. "With us around, the passengers don't have to worry about the upkeep of a vehicle and they can stay at home and be independent.
Transportation is no longer a luxury in today's society, it is a vital necessity."
The transit runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week. For further information, the Scott County Transit can be reached at 472-3030.