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Consolidation idea for senior busing

November 03, 2010 - A task force is checking into consolidating Independence Township's senior busing with North Oakland Transportation Authority.

"NOTA offers service to more than seniors," said Bart Clark, member of an Operation Review Task Force, created by Independence Township Board. "The township focuses on the needs of seniors and those with disabilities."

Created last year to review the budget, the task force reported back to the township board Oct. 12.

"It was part of our analysis of parks and recreation – the senior center is part of parks and rec," Clark said.

NOTA operates 16 buses and vans from the organization's base in Oxford, averaging about 36 hours every week. It provides free rides to senior citizens, disabled individuals and welfare-to-work program participants living in Orion, Oxford, and Addison, and served 33,600 passengers in 2009.

At the task force's request, NOTA officials laid out some preliminary figures.

"We discussed charging $15,000 per month or $180,000 per year," said Orion Township Trustee JoAnn Van Tassel.

If the plan came to fruition, the service would begin about Jan. 1 for Independence Township riders, Van Tassel said.

The task force is analyzing the figures to see if it would save enough costs, Clark said.

Currently, the Independence program employs two full time drivers and operates five vehicles through township Parks and Rec.

Van Tassel said she wants feedback from each municipality involved in NOTA's current intergovernmental agreement, which was updated over the summer.

"Before the NOTA board goes any further we are asking each township to discuss with board members see if they are in favor of contract with another," she said.

NOTA incurs an average of $22 in expenses per each roundtrip. The Independence Township program, which had 7,190 riders in 2009, serves residents age 55 and up and those with a disability

Independence Township's program does not offer welfare-to-work transportation, and requests a financial contribution from riders; a $6 donation for each in-town round trip and $10 for a round trip hospital visit.

Rider donations cover about 7 percent of operation costs, with additional funding arriving through government grants, Municipal Credits, specialized services, other donations and the Independence Township general fund.

-Laura Colvin contributed to this report

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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