TX: State Grant Benefits Riders

June 03--CORSICANA -- The Texas Transportation Commission awarded nearly $60 million in federal and state funds last week to enhance rural and urban mobility programs across the state.

Locally, Community Services, Inc., which provides bus and van service to Navarro and Ellis counties, will receive $683,570.

"These funds help provide critical transportation services for Texas citizens who would otherwise have difficulty traveling. In many cases, these citizens are seniors or disabled and the funds make it possible for people to get to work, school, doctor's appointments and other important destinations," said Michelle Ragion, spokeswoman for TxDOT.

Officials with the local bus service were pleased with the amount of the grant.

"The services are needed, and funding is definitely needed," said Daniel Edwards, executive director.

The agency began transportation services for the elderly in 1964, but they started rural public transportation in 1991.

"We carry any age group to any location they want to go," said Charlotte Clower, transportation director for Community Services, Inc. "Grocery store, doctor's office, nursing homes to visit, out to lunch, work. Anywhere they want to go."

The bus service starts at 5 a.m. and typically has its last pick-up around 5 p.m. in the afternoon to anywhere in Navarro or Ellis counties. Last fiscal year, they provided 92,550 trips within the two counties, according to Edwards.

Statewide, the various public transportation programs provide services to seniors, people with disabilities and other transit-dependent individuals who need help getting to work, school, health care facilities, shopping and other important destinations. The transit agencies supported by these programs reported more than 34 million trips in 2013, which represents a 4.7 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.

"We are pleased to support these services that enhance independence and quality of life for individuals who may otherwise be unable to travel," retired Lt. Gen. Joe Weber, USMC, TxDOT executive director. "Based on the statistics, there is an increasing demand for these types of mobility services and we are proud to work with our partners to meet this demand."

The funds also help address congestion relief in rapidly growing metropolitan areas by providing park-and-ride commuter services, vanpools and other transportation options for those who own automobiles, but choose instead to commute via public transportation.

Each year, TxDOT administers state and federal public transportation grant programs totaling approximately $90 million. Organizations in Dallas and surrounding areas that received more than $5 million in transit-related funds include SPAN, Inc., STAR Transit, Texoma Area Paratransit System, Inc., the city of McKinney, Metrocrest Services, Community Services Inc. and Grand Prairie. Many of these awards include transportation development credits that support eligible capital project investments, including vehicles, facilities, equipment and preventive maintenance.

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Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com.

Copyright 2014 - Corsicana Daily Sun, Texas

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