The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

November 2, 2012

City buses move in the right direction

OTTUMWA — The good news means a lot to Ottumwa Transit advisory board members, who heard this week about the number of bus passengers using the service.  

“We looked at financial reports, and we looked at ridership,” said Robert LaPoint, the chairman of the advisory board.

He said for the month of September, Transit had 18,949 riders.

“We were happy with that,” LaPoint said. “Last September, we had 16,605.”

Numbers from before then are difficult to trust, officials have said. So the city and the new board wondered what “the real numbers” would look like when an accurate, verifiable count was made.

The advisory board was started after an investigation determined possible wrongdoing within the former bus service when it was known as “The Ottumwa Transit Authority.”

The City of Ottumwa took over and oversees bus transportation with a city department simply called Ottumwa Transit. Upper management from the city have stayed closely involved in the operation. They also created the new board, which provides advice and some oversight but leaves the city in control of decision making.

Investigators alleged that in previous years buses were rented to groups for charter in violation of government regulations, records on ridership and payroll were improperly maintained and that numbers reported about passengers were falsified.

Yet those inflated numbers were used to determine how much money the bus service received from state and federal sources.

The money is being steadily paid back to the government.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” said Joni Keith, the City of Ottumwa’ attorney and human resources manager. “The budget looks good; I don’t see any particular issues there. We’re able to pay money back to the state — and still have a little in the bank left over.”

Funding is still based on ridership.

“The numbers are steadily rising,” Keith said.  

The biggest jump in passenger rides, said LaPoint, can be attributed to the development boom out at the area surrounding the Ottumwa Regional Airport.

“The airport [route] had 215 riders last September,” he said. “This year for September, there were 3,337.”

He mentioned the Iowa Works center, Ottumwa Job Corps and a high school program taking place out there.

Across the city, he said, some routes are up or down, but overall, the numbers are going in the right direction. So is the reputation of Ottumwa Transit, Keith said.

Though there was some hesitation at first, officials at the state level have seen that Ottumwa’s takeover has been good for the department.

“The DOT has been super to work with,” said Keith.

She believes the sincere efforts made by the city to do the right thing — a different type of board, city management of the operation, firing the old manager, hiring a former police lieutenant to help keep the department within the law, retaining an IDOT-recommended consultant to properly reconfigure routes and passenger counts — has resulted in an improved working relationship with IDOT.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 0418 OTT Tree City U.S.A. logo Ottumwa awarded as Tree City U.S.A. again OTTUMWA — Having big, beautiful trees throughout a community can help spruce up a city and make it more attractive to visitors. Ottumwa has shown a dedication to making the community more green and inviting, and the efforts have been recognized by th

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 15-minutes.png A change at Evans

    OTTUMWA — You can get kids to memorize facts. But teaching them to think can take more time. Educational leaders told the Ottumwa school board that the school year that begins 2014 will shift Evans Middle School students from 45-minute periods to 60-

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT Agriculture Day color photo 2 -T -L -M Cardinal students celebrate Ag Day ELDON — Sometimes the best way to learn is to get out of the classroom and come face-to-face with things that you might not see every day. Students at Cardinal Elementary School got that chance Thursday during Ag Day. Every year, the Cardinal FFA and

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0418 OTT Five Things logo -T -L -M Five things to do in southeast Iowa this weekend OTTUMWA — It's a weekend of Easter celebrations, historic events and educational opportunities in southeast Iowa. Many people are gathered together this weekend, and the surrounding communities have scheduled events perfect for the whole family. 1. S

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT Joe Tafta color photo -L -T -M Pursuing opportunities

    OTTUMWA — Joe Tafta follows the rules. The Simpson College junior hopes to be a U.S. marshal one day, so he’s careful about what he says and does. But not always. On the afternoon of April 1, Tafta says, he nearly got booted out of Dunn Library for m

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT OEDC director -T Guiding our growth OTTUMWA — An organization designed to help Ottumwa grow has found a new employee in Indiana. The Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) board has chosen Sharon Stroh as the group's new executive director. “We are confident she will hit the g

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0417 OTT Earth day color photo 1 -T -M Cargill celebrates Earth Day by educating ALBIA — In honor of Earth Day on Tuesday, April 22, employees from Cargill Eddyville and Cargill Pork are visiting with students at Grant Elementary and Lincoln Center in Albia all this week. On Wednesday the Courier caught up with them as they went

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • 0417 OTT Saving Center color photo -T -L -M Hedrick building has friends HEDRICK — The community wants a civic center, and they've been willing to work for it. "I'd say we have 15 to 25 volunteers each time," Tommy Smith of Hedrick said. "These are all good people." Smith was volunteering his services at the Easter Brunch

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Southern Iowa farmers preparing for planting OTTUMWA — Even though the winter seemed to linger like Iowa was going through an ice age and cold and wet weather has highlighted the early spring, farmers are starting to get out to their fields to put down fertilizer and get fields ready for planti

    April 16, 2014

  • 0417 OTT Camp Wapello fence photo -T -M -L Good fence irritates good neighbor DRAKESVILLE — For 82 years, Camp Wapello’s iconic entryway has welcomed people to peacefully coexist with nature. Now there’s a 400-foot barbed wire fence down the middle of the road. In February, Davis County Supervisors approved vacating of portion

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook
E-edition