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CAPCIL executive director addresses changes for Logan Mason Public Transportation
"Logan Mason Public Transportation continues to serve Logan and Mason Counties"

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To the editor:

The current aggregate political mood of our society is one of disunity and division. We are polarized, and in that state, it is very difficult to find common ground where peaceful coexistence resides. It is visibly present on the national stage, as well as our County Board Rooms, School Boards, and City Council meetings. Despite this polarization, even at a local level, I believe that the Logan Mason Public Transportation (LMPT) program has been a shining example over the last three years of how “something better” is born from seemingly irreconcilable differences.

In the last year, through growing pains, CAPCIL managed to produce a Public Transportation program that looked like a blooming success story. Ridership for both on-demand services and flex route services were on the rise. Supporters, like Healthy Communities Partnership, started to embrace the potential of collaboration by utilizing bus advertisements and sponsoring free rides to the Farmer’s Market. Demographically, service was being provided to a wider span of individuals with more diverse needs. LMPT grew into a workforce tool, an education tool, a medical services tool, and a recreation and socialization tool. Both community and customer had a greater awareness of the LMPT program and realized the beneficial impact of the service on both Logan and Mason Counties. (CAPCIL and LMPT will have provided nearly twenty thousand rides by the end of this fiscal year, and will have done everything previously mentioned under budget.)

With that growth in services, came a growth in expenses. The LMPT program operates on a reimbursement grant program, and the long wait times between spending and reimbursement took its toll. CAPCIL is a non-profit organization that provides services to thousands of low-income persons through 10+ programs across 6 counties. CAPCIL simply could not sustain the cash flow challenges that came with the expansion of Public Transportation.

CAPCIL brought the cash flow issue to the Logan County Board. Logan County is the grantee for the LMPT program (CAPCIL is the hired administrator) and is the responsible party for any financial or programmatic changes. CAPCIL requested a reimbursement mechanism from Logan County in order to maintain the current level of service operation. Logan County considered the request to provide a mechanism that reimbursed for services rendered in advance of receiving their grant proceeds, however, Logan County Board returned a six to six vote -a “no” vote - that resulted in a decision to reduce services.

It would be a misnomer to say that CAPCIL and the Logan County Board have had an easy relationship. Throughout the last three years there have been ups and downs, bumps and bruises, and heated disagreements. Needless to say, CAPCIL and Logan County were both surprised when the most recent turn of events resulted in finding the “soul” of the program.

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Members of the Logan County Board, from different sides of the vote, came separately to CAPCIL to discuss the transportation needs of the community.

The discussions were selfless in nature, totally focused on the community they serve, not focusing at all on their positions. Mr. Dave Blankenship (a “no vote”) and Dr. David Hepler (a “yes” vote) came to meet with me, our transportation staff, and the PCOM to discuss what the community really needed, and how we could best utilize the limited funds to best serve Logan and Mason Counties. During our hours long meetings, we reviewed data, talked about the various competing values at stake, and the importance of providing a fiscally responsible service for all tax payers, but specifically those in Logan and Mason Counties. Our meeting generated 3 options (A, B, and C) which were presented to the Transportation Committee. It was agreed and voted on that LMPT would continue its operations under “option C”.

Within the next few weeks, CAPCIL and the County will jointly reveal the details of “Option C” so that the public is prepared for the changes that will begin on July 1, 2017. “Option C” promises to be a lean, cost effective, growth-inspired Public Transportation Program that ensures a place for Public Transportation for years to come. The elements of the new service design will ensure services for seniors, medical appointments, vets, socialization, Head Start, and the local workforce who most need access to reliable transportation. The services will ensure riders a sense of pride, dignity and independence. We at CAPCIL are really excited about the direction Logan County has set for us as providers, and take comfort in knowing that all the conflict did not dismantle this program. The disagreements burnished the Program and made it something that we can all get behind.

I wish to thank the Logan County Board for the experience, and for setting an example that more should follow. A genuine effort was made by all to come up with real solutions that solved real problems. DiAnne Turner and Brenda Clark are ladies in every sense of the word. Without their hard work, “Option C” would not have been possible. CAPCIL Board Chairman, Steve Lobb, and Board Treasurer, Richard Kaufman were also instrumental in getting to the service design planning phase. It was such a humbling experience to see this collective group come together to accomplish something that is good for the County. Closing the letter, I want to quote one of my favorites, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead. Thanks to all for exceeding my expectations, and cheers for what is to come!

Alison Rumler-Gomez
Executive Director


[Posted June 10, 2017]

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