Tama County’s public transportation system, Peoplerides, have been administered by Region 6 Planning since 1974. It has been designed to serve transportation needs for medical, educational, work, shopping, business, nutritional and recreational purposes – or transportation for just about anything we want to do. After public input over the past year, Region 6 Planning released the five-year plan this week:
1) Continue Operating Assistance for Public Transit: continued state and federal financial resources are critical in order to at least maintain current service levels. Prices for general public usage could be decreased if subsidized by local public or private financial resources.
2) Acquire Ride Coordinator: To increase efficiency, a staff person could be hired to coordinate all transportation services throughout Hardin, Marshall, Poweshiek and Tama Counties.
3) Replace aging transit fleet: as public transit fleet ages and racks up mileage, needs to replace it with newer, more reliable and increasingly efficient vehicles may arise.
4) Start Regional Vanpool Program: In response to industry visits, and anticipated changing economic landscape, provide a vanpool option to transport workforce to and from work based on formally articulated demand and additional resources.
5) Special education routes to Waterloo: public schools in Hardin, Marshall, and Tama counties have vehicles that go to the AEA 267 special education school in Waterloo. Coordinating that service and adding more general public opportunities may be a good service improvement.
To date, transit routes have been designed to serve the transportation needs of some disabled groups as opposed to the general public or major work sites. Awareness, attitudes, and economics would need to change to attract a larger diversity of riders that could drive the cost down. Dysart’s Development Corporation and Tama County Economic Development are examples of organizations that have also thought outside the box and leveraged Peoplerides resources for special events or prospect tours.