Editor’s Note: The city of Alliance is required to pay or secure local funding for 10 percent of non-operating costs and 25 percent of operating costs for Box Butte County Public Transit. Though donors are being solicited in hopes of covering these percentages, City Council approved $73,000 from Council Contingency for expenses the rest of this fiscal year, as there is no spending authority in the current budget. Also, a business phone number has been established: 761-RIDE (7433).
As of today (July 2), the city of Alliance has completed its first week as the managing entity for the Public Transit system or should I say its first two days? Already the public is being informed that they are not going to be operating on Fridays (to begin with). Isn’t that the whole platform that was used for the takeover of the transit system? I believe the public was informed that reinstating Friday service was the City’s number one priority, were we not? …
What about those citizens that need to get to work, dialysis, other medical care, groceries or conduct personal business? All those topics that arose during discussions about the critical, crucial need of transportation services on Fridays and how the City was coming in to save the day?
Some may say that we need to give them time. I disagree. Through their so-called months of meetings and planning and their bottomless piggy bank that should have been plenty of time if they thought they could just takeover a whole department that they know nothing about. Plenty of time to figure out staffing; what would they have done if the current drivers from Senior Services, Inc. would not have applied with the City? How would they have been able to train anyone, when they didn’t even know what to do? The current City Council, city manager, city department managers and most staff have never even rode with or used local public transit (with the exception of the city manager and tourism director that may have rode it once a couple years ago).
They had plenty of time to figure out where to house employees and vehicles. Plenty of time to maybe even get a business phone number set up and to advertise what the new contact number was going to be. Did they think about personally contacting all departments of the hospital, other various medical providers, every nursing home and assisted living facility, every business, every current user of public transportation with the new phone number? What about the elderly, shut-ins or other individuals that do not read the newspaper, listen to the radio, have access to the worldwide web or may have special needs due to sight and hearing disabilities? No they did not.
Senior Services, Inc. offered to assist in distributing the new Public Transit phone number to passengers if the City had cards made up. They received these Monday night, June 29, after the close of business, one day before the City was to take over services. Maybe there is a lot to be said about the 41 plus years of experience that Senior Services, Inc. brought to the local public transit system.
The public has been informed that the City will be selling bus passes for $20 for 25 transports. Does John Q. Public even know what this is going to cost the taxpayers? Does the City?
Well … maybe with time they will figure it out, become organized and we will see the promised reinstatement of Friday services along with Saturdays, Sundays, evenings, special events and all of those promised trips to and from Hemingford, Scottsbluff and Chadron.
Donald “Willy” Smith, concerned citizen