The Greensboro City Council increased the funding for the Greensboro Transit Agency (GTA) by close to $1 million on Tuesday, Feb. 18, and the trend is for costs to increase and revenue to decrease.
The council voted to allocate $98,000 to revive the I-Ride paratransit service and run it from March 1 through the end of the fiscal year, June 30. The service is expected to be fully funded in the 2020-2021 budget.
I-Ride provides an Uber type service for people who are disabled and qualify for the GTA SCAT paratransit service at a cost of $6 a ride. SCAT costs $1.50. But there may be as many as eight or nine other riders on a SCAT bus, so a 10-minute trip by car can take over an hour on a SCAT bus, whereas with I-Ride it would take 10 minutes.
I-Ride started in January 2019 with a $100,000 grant to fund a pilot program that was intended to provide the service until June 30. But because the I-Ride program got off to a slow start, there was still grant money available and GTA extended the service. Somewhere in there the program really caught on and, in October, the City Council voted to allocate $55,000 to keep I-Ride running through the end of 2019.
After the program was discontinued on Dec. 31, the City Council heard from many I-Ride riders who were upset that the service was no longer available and the council agreed to revive it.
The city councilmembers said they plan to fully fund the program in next years’ budget and judging from the $98,000 allocation for four months, that would be about $300,000. However, if the service increases in popularity, it could cost considerably more.
The City Council also approved an additional allocation of $818,000 to Keolis, which operates the GTA and SCAT buses for the city to cover the cost of GTA service enhancements and an increase in SCAT ridership. According to projections, SCAT will provide about 25,000 more rides than were anticipated in the current contract.