There may be some changes to the contract between The Colony and SPAN to address ridership overages.
SPAN provides a variety of bus services to cities for their senior and disabled populations.
During a presentation to the City Council last week, Laura Joy, mobility manager for SPAN, said the number of bus trips surpassed the contracted amount for the 2018-19 year.
The contract with the city called for 2,700 contractually approved senior trips for the year, or 225 per month, and 5,568 approved Demand Response trips annually, or 464 per month for a total 8,268 trips. But Joy said there ended up being 8,702 trips.
Joy said there were 5,368 demand response service trips (536 per month) from October to July. She said the largest use is for workshop programs for special needs adults, followed by medical and employment reasons.
The city and SPAN are looking at several ways to address the overages, such as applying for funding from the federal 5310 program. Joy said SPAN applied to receive $75,000 for three years.
She said if approved the money would be available in the summer of 2020.
“But we would like the next contract to be written so that the funds will be accessible before the next contract is up, which is October,” Joy said. “That way those funds can be accessed early. That would cover cost overages and growth as needed.”
In addition, the two entities are looking at possible revisions for SPAN usage out of the Evergreen at Morningstar senior living facility.
Joe Perez, director of community relations and programming, said some residents at the facility use SPAN for shopping and medical trips, adding that it has a transportation service. Joy said that translates to about 96 SPAN rides per month.
Joy said if the facility contracted with SPAN it would help the city reduce its overage. But she said there are several factors involved.
“Since it's a private entity and not a city, it wouldn't be able to receive that local match of funding, so they would have to pay the full report rate of $27.01 per trip,” Joy said, “which is fairly high.”
Joy said of the 969 trips using the Evergreen bus from October through July, 586 were for medical uses, and 322 were for shopping.
Perez said an option is to maintain the medical trips and that a reduction or a limit on the non-medical trips is possible for the 2019-20 contract.
“The reduction in non-medical trip options for higher users of SPAN’s service like Evergreeen is to ensure we stay within the historically budgeted amount for the SPAN contract while accommodating individual riders throughout the city who are on very fixed incomes and have no other option for transportation other than SPAN,” Perez said.
Joy said setting that limit would reduce trips from the facility by 438 trips for the year.
“And right now we're projecting it to be about 430 over for the year,” Joy said.
She said another option is for the city to increase its budget for SPAN from $101,900 for the year to $105,252. That would increase the total number of contracted trips from 8,271 to 8,400. She said if no changes were made, such as ride limits, this year’s budget is projected to be $109,040.
SPAN is also requesting to increase its senior center fair reimbursement by 25 rides, upping the annual cost from $8,100 to $9,000.
A rate increase for the city from $12.32 per ride to $12.53 is expected to account for the consumer price index.