The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

November 16, 2012

New paratransit van to increase service

Roof approved for Naval Air Station museum

OTTUMWA — Ottumwa Transit will be getting a new paratransit van to better aid those medically qualified for the service and to comply with DOT regulations.

“The discussion [at this week’s Ottumwa City Council meeting] centered on the large number of people that need the lift van service,” said City Administrator Joe Helfenberger. “If we turn down more than 5 percent of requests, we can lose federal and state funding we do get for the rest of the bus service, which would make it very difficult to be able to provide the services we do.”

As it stands, there are times Ottumwa Transit has to turn down riders because they simply don’t have a van available.

“Just because they call and say at 9 a.m. I have a doctor’s appointment, if we don’t have a van available to take them at that time, then we have to turn down the request,” said City Attorney Joni Keith. “We are limited on the number of requests we can turn down.”

Ridership numbers were surprising, Helfenberger said, since they were high for that particular service.

“We want to make sure we’re providing all of the services we possibly can for this type of service because it’s a basic necessity for some people,” Helfenberger said.

The paratransit services are for those who are medically qualified who are unable to ride the regular city bus. A rider has to be certified annually in order to ride the paratransit van.

“We have to individually certify each individual,” Keith said. “These vans are to take those people from door to door.”

The addition of this van will help the department to become compliant with DOT regulations and provide more service, Keith said.

“We’re continuing to strive to be completely compliant with all DOT regulations,” Keith said. “This is just one more element the DOT wants us to work on.”

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