Limitations on Change at RCT

RCT ThumbnailLYNDON- Changes might be coming to Rural Community Transportation in the near future. During a public meeting Friday, they layed out their Five Year Plan, which details what direction they plan on heading in the next few years.


"A number of the recommendations in the old plan had been implimented, so it was time to take a fresh lookat the lay of the land, and to see how the recommendations from the old plan needed to be updated," said Stepehen Falbel, the main consultant to RCT's Transit plan.

One of the biggest changes that needed to be accounted for between 2012 and 2017 is gas prices. In 2012, gas prices were averaged at $3.60. In 2017, they average $2.49. With gas dropping on average over a dollar, more people are relying less on public transportation and taking their own cars instead.
Despite these statistics, Falbel has remained optimistic.

"Certainly, the environment has changed since 2012. Instead of high gas prices, we have low gas prices. But there are still plenty of mobility needs out there, and we wanted to make sure we try to address those the best we could."

And to address these problems, Falbel and RCT released their plans for the future. Some of the biggest improvements they would like to make include include ramping up service on the Jay-Lyn shuttle, increase their number of shuttles, and have their shuttles run more frequently. They are also debating adding Wi-Fi to commuter buses, improving their mobile application, and adding more four-wheel drive vehicles into their mix.

But there's one thing that stands in their way.

"Resources at the state and federal level for additional transportation are pretty scarce, and a lot of it is unknown at this point, what Congress is going to do in terms of federal appropriations," said Falbel. " There's lots of additional services RCT would like to run, but it's limited by the available funding from the state and federal levels."

"What we do is we have the Medicaid contract for the counties we serve, which we serve Caledonia, Lamoille, Orleans, and Essex counties. We do transportation for school kids, elderly and disabled for some of the local doctors offices," added Tasha Green, a dispatch manager for RTC.

Lack of funding has led RCT to rely on their volunteer drivers as their main sources of transportation. In the 2016 fiscal year, volunteer drivers accounted for abot 133,000 rides, as opposed to just 31,000 on their vans.

"It's been going on over 20 years. It started out small, and has grown tremendously. Right now, we're dispatching out for those counties, anywhere between 600-900 trips a day," said Green.

So RCT's plan right now: do the best with what they have.

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