June 25, 2014 11:30AM
Some changes are coming to the public transportation services offered by the Southeast Kansas Community Action Program (SEK-CAP), but officials with the agency say Pittsburg State University students will continue to receive much-needed service.
Steve Lohr, SEK-CAP executive director, said planned cuts to the agency’s Community Services Block Grant from the Kansas Housing Services Corporation have forced SEK-CAP to curtail transportation services and eliminate some routes.
Lohr said that although state and federal funding to maintain the existing services is in place at 70 percent, the 30 percent matching funds are not.
“Our actions result from a local match funding shortfall,” Lohr said. “We planned for it and were successful in maintaining our state (20 percent) and federal (50 percent) funding. Because we cannot immediately generate the local match, we’re in a tough position. We have some latitude because of past performance and our position as a statewide leader in this arena, but that won’t last long. In the coming 12 months, we have the base funding available and can expand services anywhere in our service area where we identify the local match.”
Specifically, SEK-CAP’s fixed route system in Pittsburg, known as PACT, will downsize from two vehicles to one. Beginning on July 1, the system will operate in a condensed area of south Pittsburg for 11 hours each day, Monday through Friday. There will be late afternoon and evening runs from the southern route to Wal-Mart in north Pittsburg via the US-69 bypass.
Factors considered in the redesign of the PACT schedule in Pittsburg included the large number of Pittsburg State University students who use the service and the funds committed by the university and the students to support it.
Last year, more than 7,000 students used PACT+, SafeRide or Gus Bus. The Student Fee Council and the university supported the system to the tune of more than $24,000.
In addition to the PACT changes in Pittsburg, SEK-CAP will eliminate two Pittsburg/Frontenac buses and a Cherokee County route. One demand responsive vehicle, which is supported by the Crawford County Commission through its Elderly Fund, will be dedicated to serve Pittsburg and rural Crawford County. The Girard Medical Center also provides support for capacity in the county, Lohr said.
Lohr emphasized that persons or groups wishing to schedule rides 24 hours in advance may continue to do so and he said that SEK-CAP will continue to work to identify local sources for matching funds to restore transportation services.
At the same time that cuts are taking place in Crawford County, SEK-CAP will expand its transportation services into Fort Scott as a direct result of a partnership with Bourbon County Senior Citizens. Lohr said that community has committed nearly $30,000 in local matching funding for the service. Existing SEK-CAP public transportation routes in Montgomery and Neosho counties, supported through those county commissions, will continue.