By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
Most users of Enid’s public transportation system will have to call for a ride starting May 20, according to a new city policy.On that day, buses will show up only at fixed-route bus stops if someone has called requesting a stop, the city said Thursday.
There are three fixed routes in the city — Red Bird, Blue Bird and Black Bird — and drivers on all three will respond to bus stops only if someone calls the Enid Public Transportation Authority dispatch office.
The policy change is considered a temporary measure to offset state and federal funding cuts.
“This situation is projected to worsen in the 2013-2014 fiscal year, demanding that we find ways to operate more efficiently with our available resources,” said James Neal, EPTA general manager.
Paratransit, or “curb-to-curb” riders, will not be affected by the changes.
To schedule a ride, the city will ask the public to call EPTA at least an hour in advance. For those wanting a bus to stop in the early morning hours before the dispatchers go on duty, riders will be instructed to schedule a stop the day before.
The changes are meant to sustain the public transit service until the system can be overhauled.
“The end result of this process will be a leaner, more efficient system, that provides more service to the public within the constraints of our current budget,” Neal said. “We appreciate the public’s patience and input as we continue through that process.”
However, there is no timeline for full implementation of a redesigned transit system, Neal said.
EPTA had requested $55,650 from Community Development Block Grant funds for several solar-powered, lighted bus shelters, but the city decided against funding it. Instead, Enid City Commission on Monday approved $8,000 in expected federal grant money to pay bus fares for low-income passengers.