WaKeeney to launch out-of-town transportation service
By CRISTINA JANNEY
WAKEENEY – After a wait of over nine months, WaKeeney has received a new van to provide public transport outside the city limits.
The city already has a public transportation program within the city, but this van will be used to take local residents to appointments in Hays, Hill City or Quinter.
The service begins Wednesday.
Rural residents of County Trego can also request groceries at WaKeeney. The program has a 60 mile limit but may make some exceptions for longer distances depending on the availability of drivers and vans, Nancy Bollig, parish nurse for the Prairie Faith Shared Ministry. She helped organize the grant applications for the van.
The city received a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation for 100 percent of the cost of purchasing the van, as well as $ 3,748 from the Heartland Community Foundation to use for start-up costs.
To book a ride, residents should call 785-769-4631 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
This will also be the journey times for the van.
Passengers will need to call for trips at least 24 hours in advance or before Friday for a Monday trip. The program is on a first come, first served basis, so it is best to plan ahead.
The cost will be $ 10 round trip from WaKeeney to Hays, $ 7 round trip from WaKeeney to Ellis, Hill City or Quinter. Other trips will cost 30 cents per mile.
The aim of the program is to provide transportation to all local residents, regardless of their ability to pay. Bollig said she is still trying to work out the details of this part of the program.
The van that the city bought with KDOT funds is accessible to people with disabilities with an elevator. It can carry up to 10 people, depending on the seat configuration. The seats can be removed to accommodate wheelchairs.
Drivers and riders will be required to mask themselves in accordance with federal regulations as a precaution against COVID.
Although the program was born out of the need for local residents to attend medical, mental health and dental appointments, Bollig said she hoped the van could also be used to meet residents’ social needs. .
She said if a driver was available she would consider groups traveling to Hays or Hill City for movies or plays.
She said the van could also run early if a passenger had to travel to Hays for early morning medical procedures.
The idea for the program arose out of a strategic action session sponsored by the Dane G. Hansen Foundation. A small community group was formed.
The group researched what other counties were doing and found that Gove and Rooks counties had similar successful programs.
Bollig thanked the Heartland Community Foundation for their support, which paid for a cell phone for the program, a child safety seat, advertising, as well as physical exams and driver training from the Department of Transportation.