With the approaching end to public transportation provided by the Southeast Kansas Community Action Program, a group of Fort Scott residents formed a committee to look into other options that could accommodate the needs of the city.
In a meeting held Monday evening, this Community Transportation Committee—made up of representatives from the city, area churches, Mercy Hospital and Fort Scott Community College—discussed options such as continuing to reach out to local churches who could volunteer their church vehicles as a short-term solution to the issue. A local pastor in attendance at the meeting said insurance is a key concern for churches since using them would not be considered church-related.
Kevin Marvin and Lora Strong of Pitt-Taxi transportation services in Pittsburg also attended the meeting and explained how they began their company in 2012 with just one vehicle, since growing to include a number of vans and other vehicles.
Pitt-Taxi provides rides to those within Pittsburg city limits at a set price for one-way and round-trip journeys. Marvin said they are interested in providing such a service in Fort Scott as well since they see a need similar to what they had previously seen in Pittsburg.
“We’d be more than glad to get in here and shoot for the sky,” Marvin said, saying their company is flexible enough that they could make adjustments along the way to make it the right fit for the community.
Marvin said their goal would be to bring one of their vans to Fort Scott two weeks before the SEK-CAP end-date of June 30, and use local drivers to provide rides from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Unlike SEK-CAP, which required a 24-hour notice for rides, Pitt-Taxi could pick up customers within about 15 minutes of being called and said drivers are willing to provide some assistance to riders such as with groceries.
Currently their vehicles are not wheel-chair accessible unless the chair folds and the rider is able to get into the vehicle with minimum assistance, due to insurance coverage.
The prices would likely be the same as in Pittsburg, at $7 for a one-way trip and $10 for a round-trip, which requires no more than a 15-minute wait. At those prices, Marvin said they would need to provide an average of 20 rides per 12-hour day in order to break even.
Because of their need to spread the word of their arrival as well as additional costs in payroll, a vehicle and added insurance, Marvin asked if the cost of rent for their Fort Scott office at the Bourbon County Senior Citizens’ facility could be waived for the first few months. City Manager Dave Martin said the city of Fort Scott would provide $5,000 to the BCSC to be used for rent and utilities of that office until those funds run out.
While bringing in Pitt-Taxi would solve the issue of losing public transportation in Fort Scott—which Deb Needleman emphasized is not a result of lack of funding, but because the current transportation has not fit the needs of the city—the committee said they will continue to look for other means of providing transportation for those who could not afford the fees or need rides at night. Vouchers and volunteer drivers are options.