Future of downstate Illinois transportation in question

By Ryne Turke on October 21, 2016 at 1:05pm

The recent temporary shutdown of West Central Mass Transit could be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the future of downstate Illinois transportation.

Delays in payments caused West Central Mass Transit to suspend services last Saturday. The transportation service has shuttled across Morgan, Cass, Scott, Schuyler, Brown and Pike County since 2004.

A press release from the Illinois Public Transportation Association says the delay in payments could cause similar services to shut down over the next few weeks.

More than $156 million is owed by Illinois to the Downstate Public Transportation Fund, which accounts for transfers that have been directed monthly since February.

Illinois Public Transportation Association Executive Director Laura Calderon says, “The public transportation systems across the state provide critical services to some of the state’s most vulnerable populations. Downstate particularly, the bulk of the riders are elderly, persons with disabilities and the low income population, who are relying on the public transportation to get them to work, medical appointments and other critical services. The impact service reduction and shutdowns will have on the economy in Illinois is significant.”

Andrew Johnson, President of the Illinois Public Transportation Association, says the State’s budget issues are to blame, which in return makes it difficult to provide transportation services around Illinois.

A total of 56 urban and rural public transportation systems in association with the Downstate Public Transportation Fund receive operating assistance.

West Central Mass Transit will resume operations once the $696,620.00 payment from IDOT is received.