WUFT News

How Budgets Cuts Are Affecting Putnam County Public Transportation

By on April 21st, 2014

The people behind Putnam County’s sole public transportation system are preparing for drastic changes effective May 1.  

Putnam County is preparing for the possibility of stopping service of its only local public transportation service, Ride Solution, due to the state cutting funds. These changes are effective May 1.

Photo courtesy of Ride Solution, Inc

Putnam County is preparing for the possibility of stopping service of its only local public transportation service, Ride Solution, due to the state cutting funds. These changes are effective May 1.

Ride Solution, the small rural county’s nonprofit local transit, will be downsizing due to government funding cuts and changes made to the Medicaid bill passed in 2011.

The service provides Medicaid patients free transportation to medical appointments and to pick up prescriptions. Ride Solution also offers non-Medicaid patients with rides for only a dollar as part of Putnam’s public transportation system.

However, Ride Solution could shut down its 15 local bus stops due to budget cuts to the service’s funding, said Boyd Thompson, Director of Ride Solution Operations.

Thompson created the transit system with Putnam’s small transportation budget. He said he’s disappointed to hear 27 years of work could end.

“It’s difficult to see a program that has been proven to save the state money basically be chucked out the window,” Thompson said.

In a meeting held April 8, Thompson and other Putnam County officials agreed to send Tallahassee a resolution that could delay the changes.

Thompson said Ride Solution would lose about 90 percent of the Medicaid funding in the budget with the changes in place.

“It (the system) comes apart if the cuts are too deep,” he said.

Commission Chairman Chip Laibl said he believes the state made these changes without any thought to rural counties.

He called it ironic — the state took away a system that economically and socially benefits the state.

“They did this deal without any consideration for what has been built over the last 20 years,” Laibl said. “They’re just going to squash it without any thought to those people who need it.”

While Medicaid recipients will still be able to get to appointments, locals who depend on the bus for daily transportation will have to find it elsewhere. Unfortunately, many can’t afford alternative transportation, Laibl said.

Ed Griffin, the local regional representative of the Florida Association of Coordinated Transportation Systems Inc., said rural and urban public transportation systems are very different from one another.

“The impact will primarily be on rural, smaller transportation systems,” he said. The urban systems are rooted deep in populous counties and can withstand changes to funding.

Laibl has already received phone calls from residents asking him how they are supposed to get to the grocery store without the transportation system. He does not have an answer.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen to these people,” he said. “It’s sad.”

State Sen. John Thrasher, R-Palatka, could not be reached for comment.

Although the resolution sent to Tallahassee might not be successful in delaying the system’s destruction, Thompson is not throwing in the towel.

He has urged the state to do some financial investigation on the matter in order for them to see what exactly the impact will be on rural counties like Putnam.

An innovative public transportation system like Ride Solution is an integral part of a rural county like Putnam, Laibl said, and the state has put it on a path of destruction.


This entry was posted in Local and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Local

Rodrigo Guerrero, 21, watches his older brother, Alfonso Guerrero, 30, brewing coffee using a "pour over" technique. Know Where Coffee specializes in providing artisan coffees that are made to order. Bradley Williams / WUFT

Third-Wave Coffee Culture Popularity Rises In Gainesville

Know Where Coffee opened its doors this month. The new establishment proves the third-wave coffee culture is rising in popularity, especially across local coffee shops in Gainesville.


Luke Watkins, the 28-year-old partner of Black Hog Farms, is working toward creating a weekly farmers market along the St. Johns River in Palatka. The Saturday market will feature local farmers, musicians, artists and food trucks.

Local Businessperson Plans Farmers Market For Palatka

While Palatka’s government hopes to attract visitors to their area with the riverfront development project, a local business owner has his own idea for bringing in more people.


Robert Yard performs a song for a toddler using a Lakota love flute at the Cedar Key Fine Arts Festival in Cedar Key, Florida. Yard held impromptu music lessons throughout the day for patrons that were curious about playing an instrument. (Photo by Sydnei Cartwright)

Patrons and Artists Pack Cedar Key for 51st Annual Fine Arts Festival

Cedar Key held its 51st annual Cedar Key Fine Arts Festival this past Saturday and Sunday, and experienced a large turnout from supporting counties and out-of-state visitors. The Festival showcased a number of different arts including jewelry, photography, wood making, and mixed media.


A group of 'dirty kids' fly a sign on the corner of SE 1st St and SE 2nd Pl while one patches up a jacket and another plays guitar on Jan. 23, 2015 in Gainesville​. Photo by Andrea Sarcos/WUFT News

‘Home-Free’ Squatters Find Community In Gainesville

An abandoned house in Gainesville became a home for a group of individuals that call themselves “dirty kids.” The dirty kids feel that they are different from homeless people.


IMG_8377

Chicken House Fire Kills 24,000 Chicks

Chickens die in a chicken house fire at Saavedra Farms on Wednesday night.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments