Changes to Paratransit could limit riders - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Changes to Paratransit could limit riders

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Tuesday, Sioux Falls city council members will have a chance weigh in on possible changes to Sioux Area Metro's Paratransit bus service. 

To save money, Sioux Area Metro is looking to make some changes. But that could mean some users won't have a ride. And for the several hundred that utilize the services, it's not sitting well.

Paratransit provides curb-to-curb and often times door-to-door service to those with disabilities, or may not otherwise be able to ride the standard fixed routes.

"It's really important for me and other people like me," Jeremy Phelan said.

At Dakotabilities in Sioux Falls, 80% of the roughly 130 people there are in wheelchairs and the majority get around using Paratransit services. Jeremy is one of them. 

"I would have to rely on my parents to take me places and stuff," Phelan said.

And he's not the only one.

"For Pam, it's her only method of transportation. She can't get to work or home from work without it," Dakotabilities director Bob Bohm said.

Bohm says the idea of limiting rides isn't sitting well, especially with a growing Sioux Falls.

"I can see the need has been there for a long time, in fact, the need is growing. Our need is growing. We've grown about 30% in our agency over the last 5 years. For the things we have, the need to use Paratransit has increased dramatically," Bob Bohm said.

If city council approves the plan, City of Sioux Falls transportation planner Sam Trebilcock says Paratransit will have to cap rides at 550.

If you don't live within the Paratransit service radius, up to 3/4 of a mile off the fixed routes, you could be out of luck if you don't schedule your ride in time.

"During peak hours, it becomes difficult to provide that service in the manner we need to, the time frame we need to, we know we'll have to prioritize that a little bit, the Paratransit service," Sam Trebilcock said.

To call for Paratransit, riders make arrangements a day or two in advance. If changes go into effect as early as November, riders are encouraged to schedule rides further ahead of time.

A task force is in the works to come up with a solution to keep Sioux Area Metro's Paratransit running efficiently.

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