West Central Illinois’ most relied-upon transportation service will increase its availability to the public on a limited basis starting Monday.
West Central Mass Transit District announced yesterday afternoon that, starting next week, they will operate on a limited basis Monday through Friday during daytime hours.
In October, the transportation service was forced to temporarily suspend services due to a lack of state funding. Since late October, West Central Mass Transit has been offering transportation exclusively on a limited, emergency basis for the elderly and people with disabilities.
Now, after receiving around thirty-five percent of what they were owed by the state, WCMT will provide limited services with the funding available.
Executive Director Jean Jumper says, while they’re excited about the increased service, there’s still a lot of work to do.
“We are going to do the best we can with the money we have, but while this particular battle seems to have been won, the battle still rages. We are going to have to continue to work with the state legislators and the powers that be in Springfield and Chicago to make sure these transfers get made to the downstate operating fund. The cash flow issue in the state of Illinois has got to get better. Cash transfers have to be provided in a timely manner and then payments for the contractual amounts have to be distributed in a timely manner,” says Jumper.
Jumper says the organization is very thankful for all the local support during these trying times.
“We do greatly appreciate all the support we’ve gotten from the community. Not-for-profit organizations, our elected officials locally have been just amazingly wonderful in helping us come up with the money that we have been running on. The people that have called just to check in, we just want them to know how much we appreciate that, how much we’re humbled by the outpouring,” Jumper says.
According to Jumper, they’re currently working to bring back as many drivers as possible for the next few months.
Going forward, Jumper says it’s vital for customers to notify the Transit District as soon as possible.
“Once you know what kind of transportation you need, you need to call our office and you need to get those calls in early. We are back on the road but we do have fewer buses, we do have fewer hours. You can start calling on Monday morning and we’ll start filling those schedules, but they are going to fill fast,” Jumper explains.
Until further funding comes in, the Transit District will not be able to provide Job Access Routes to JBS in Beardstown or DOT Foods in Mt. Sterling. Late night weekend transportation such as the Safe Ride program will also be suspended.
West Central Mass Transit is currently seeking donations for the Safe Ride program. Those interested in supporting the program is asked to contact Jumper at 245-2900.
With their current financial situation, Jumper hopes to be able to provide limited service until March.