No taxi service in Willmar ... KAT may fill in the gap
WILLMAR -- Efforts to help Willmar's only taxi service stay in business apparently came too late. The Kandiyohi Area Transit governing boards had agreed earlier this fall to subsidize the private taxi company during hours when the KAT buses weren...
WILLMAR -- Efforts to help Willmar's only taxi service stay in business apparently came too late.
The Kandiyohi Area Transit governing boards had agreed earlier this fall to subsidize the private taxi company during hours when the KAT buses weren't running.
KAT had agreed to dedicate $20,000 to subsidize taxi rides during early morning and late evening hours.
Keeping the taxi service in operation would help provide inexpensive transportation service to the community, provide additional revenue to the struggling taxi company and prevent KAT from running expensive buses longer hours.
But the KAT operations board learned Tuesday that the Willmar Taxi Service, owned by Care Transportation Inc. of St. Cloud, has recently stopped operating here.
John Groothuis, KAT director, said he was told last week that the taxi company no longer had any drivers. He said a partnership between KAT and the taxi company was "not a viable option at this time."
"That's sad to hear," said Kevin Halliday, KAT board member and Willmar city clerk.
Tiffany Collins, KAT operations manager, said KAT has already been receiving additional phone calls from people seeking transportation to and from work before KAT buses are running in the morning and from 6-9 p.m. when KAT buses are parked for the evening.
Without a taxi service to provide rides for people during those hours, transportation "is just gone for them," said Collins.
Groothuis said KAT will consider expanding hours to meet those needs.
Dale Victor, owner of Care Transportation Inc., did not return the Tribune's phone calls Tuesday.
In other action Tuesday:
- The KAT operations board discussed options for assistance with communication and cultural issues that arise between KAT employees and Somali riders who can't speak English. In-service training for staff and translation services were briefly discussed. Heartland Community Action Agency has offered to provide services to KAT for a fee. Other services will also be explored.
- The board approved the revised 2007 budget, which includes a $122,550 increase in revenues and $107,550 increase in expenditures compared to the preliminary budget. The increase in revenue was from the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The board agreed to hire a full-time driver and a driver/scheduler to provide additional bus routes and 25,000 new hours of driving time.
- Board members heard an update on plans for the new bus shelter that will be built on Fourth Street Southwest in downtown Willmar. Preliminary plans call for glass sides and a clear ceiling on the 6-foot-by16-foot shelter. Construction will take place next spring.
- Board members were informed that ridership for 2006 is expected to be about the same as 2005.