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Sioux Falls para-transit system strained

SIOUX FALLS (AP) -- The para-transit system in South Dakota's largest city is considering limiting ridership because the service lacks money to accommodate additional people.

SIOUX FALLS (AP) -- The para-transit system in South Dakota's largest city is considering limiting ridership because the service lacks money to accommodate additional people.

The Sioux Falls service provides about 600 rides a week for people with disabilities -- about 100 more than the system can comfortably handle, said City Transportation Planner Sam Trebilcock. Use of the service has expanded with the population growth in Sioux Falls, with more residents moving in to take advantage of support networks and medical services, he said.

"It's a capacity issue," he said. "It just kind of comes down to, at peak hours, we just can't get to everybody in a timely and safe manner."

The Public Transit Advisory Board has presented several options to the City Council, including limiting the service's coverage area during peak travel times and not accepting new subscribers in certain areas, the Argus Leader newspaper reported. The council is expected to consider the matter in May.

Trebilcock said the goal is not to eliminate the service.

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"We're not trying to limit the system so much that the people who really need it, can't utilize it," he said. "A lot of agencies we've talked to are trying to find more independent transportation options."

Officials with DakotAbilities, a nonprofit that provides services for developmentally disabled adults, has several apartments and individual homes across Sioux Falls. At least two of those homes were built in the past five years, and officials say locations were chosen with the understanding that para-transit service would be provided in those areas.

"Our mission statement is to utilize an inclusive community and support independence, and our expectation is that the community try to be inclusive and help us out with that," said Joe Dvorak, director of client services.

Possible changes to para-transit concerns riders such as Kristin Willey, who uses the service several times a week to go to a church and preschool where she volunteers. Willey, who uses a motorized cart to get around, has been using the service since 1990, and said she would have no problem paying more to ride.

"(It's) very important, because I don't have my own vehicle, so para-transit is my sole method of transportation," she said.

Fare increases might be considered in the future, Trebilcock said.

Related Topics: TRANSPORTATION
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