MORGANTOWN — Starting Jan. 2, Mountain Line Transit Authority will step in to try to alleviate what Executive Director David Bruffy characterized as “a transportation crisis in our community” that arose with the loss of In Touch and Concerned (ITAC).
Bruffy addressed Morgantown City Council during its regular Tuesday meeting.
ITAC was a nonprofit entity that provided non-emergency medical transportation as well as transport for individuals dealing with mobility issues. Facing mounting financial issues, the agency closed its doors in August, leaving many in the community with only ambulance services as a fallback.
Bruffy said Mountain Line has worked with the Monongalia County Commission, the United Way, local hospitals and clinics and ITAC on a solution.
He said about $80,000 in federal funding has be identified, as well as $75,000 in matching funds that will begin filling the void left by ITAC.
He cautioned that Mountain Line is taking on the challenge on a shoestring budget with no future funding assurances, and with the knowledge that it simply won’t be able to provide the same level of door-to-door service that ITAC clients were used to.
“My biggest concern is we’re going to try to step up and meet this need without a continuing source of funding that’s going to end in a year. It’s not going to be the kind of service that everyone’s used to, and, when this year is up if we don’t have a long-term solution, now it’s going to be our fault,” Bruffy said.
He said the service will focus on medical transportation needs. He said clients may be picked up at their homes and delivered to mainline bus service in order to stretch funding.
“For someone who can’t get there at all right now, that’s not the perfect solution, but it’s a better solution,” Bruffy said, noting Mountain Line will also try to work with local clinics and medical centers to bunch appointments so multiple clients can be served more efficiently.
Bruffy asked city council to consider allocating funds for this purpose in its upcoming budget process and said any clients who need trip planning or other coordination assistance should contact Mountain Line Mobility Coordinator Kelli LaNeve at 304-296-3680.
Also on Tuesday:
— It was announced that the Morgantown Public Library will no longer charge fees for overdue books.
It was explained that the fees made up a fraction of one percent of the library’s budget and the move would foster a better relationship with patrons.
— The Morgantown Human Rights Commission awarded Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, and the League of Women Voters for Morgantown/Monongalia County with its annual awards in recognition of their services to the community.