The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

July 8, 2013

Bus service forums: EPTA holding two meetings for public input, questions

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — People wanting to speak out about changes in Enid’s bus routes can do so Wednesday in one of two public forums.

Enid Public Transportation Authority is meeting twice that day to “take input and answer questions concerning impending system changes.” Meetings are at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. in the city of Enid administration building’s commission chambers, 401 W. Garriott.

The cash-strapped agency was forced to revert back to its former on-demand bus service last month to save hundreds of thousands of dollars. With that service, bus riders must call at least an hour ahead to schedule a ride instead of waiting for a bus to arrive along its scheduled route.

Officials have blamed the lack of funds on sparse grant funding and a low ridership rate that left buses carrying only one or two passengers at a time throughout the day.

EPTA General Manager James Neal said the transit system is working to increase efficiency and effectiveness of the public service.

“EPTA, like most transit authorities across the nation, has seen a significant decrease in its grant funding over the last two years,” Neal said. “Since grant funding historically has made up the majority of Enid Transit’s annual operating budget, these cuts have forced us to change the way we operate. We have to run EPTA more efficiently in order to operate within the confines of our available funding.”

Further changes are coming for the transit authority on July 22, when all riders will be picked up wherever they are instead of at a bus stop.

On that date, the bus system also will shut down at 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and each trip will cost $2 per ride for all adult riders, a release issued Monday by the city stated.

These changes will allow EPTA to meet its budget requirements for the fiscal year, which began July 1.

“We will continue to evaluate our efficiency and our effectiveness through this fiscal year, and we will be looking for ways we can both cut costs and improve our service to the public,” Neal said. “We encourage the public to come out to the meetings ... to get their questions answered and to provide feedback on their transit service.”