Loss of routes criticized at transit hearing

Western Kenosha County Transit’s plans to eliminate two of its fixed bus routes in 2013 drew criticism from several audience members at a public hearing today in Salem.

Transit officials assured those at the hearing that they will work to create group on-demand rides or other strategies to try to replace as much of the reduced service at as low as possible cost.

For the past five years, Western Transit has had routes that traveled between Kenosha and Twin Lakes, Paddock Lake and Antioch and Twin Lakes and Lake Geneva. Only the Kenosha to Twin Lakes route (with stops along the way in Bristol, Paddock Lake and Silver Lake) will be retained.

Carolyn Feldt, of the county Aging and Disability Services Department, explained that reduction is due strictly to the need to cut the cost of the program due to less available funding. The annual hearing was held at the Community Library in Salem.

“The changes are really driven by a need to be sustainable,” Feldt said. “It’s not a reflection of it going away because there is not a need.”

In the past, Western Transit has been funded by a pilot rural transportation grant that provided 80 percent funding for a 20 percent local match. That pilot has expired, Feldt said, and the new grant will be a 60-40 percent match. Since the county’s contribution from tax levy has to stay at about $40,000, that means the service will have about $150,000 less in operating funds in 2013, hence the service changes.

In past years, attendance at this annual hearing has been slim, dominated mostly by drivers for the system, a few public officials and media.

However, about 20 people attended the hearing today to object to the dropping of the two routes.

Several Silver Lake residents said they counted on the existing route structure to get to medical appointments and for picking up medications.

Another attendee said he used route 2 to get to almost daily doctor and/or therapy sessions in Kenosha and Lake Geneva, starting in Trevor. With fixed routes, he could do all of that traveling under a $20 monthly pass. Combining demand response use with fixed routes could now cost him $12 a day.

Another attendee said she recently purchased a membership at the Lake Geneva YMCA based on being able to get there from Twin Lakes via the bus.

Another attendee said the bus gets her daughter to Riverview School and then her to her job in Antioch. Without the ability to get at least to the state line  she said she feared she might have to quit that job.

Feldt said transit official hope to hear from people who will have problems related to the dropping of the routes so they can try to figure out solutions, such as group demand  trips. Reservations for demand response trips can be made for 2013 starting Dec. 15.

The fare for fixed routes rides will remain at $2 in 2012 but on-demand door-to-door service will increase from $3 to $5 for the general public and from $2 to $3 for the elderly and those with disabilities. Monthly passes for fixed routes will remain at $20.



  1. Matt says:

    I seriously don’t think many people understand how things really work. Money doesn’t fall from trees. You can’t just throw money at something that’s less used.

  2. Grant says:

    I completely understand that if funding is cut a reduction of services may happen; my issue is when they hold these hearings. They would have had more than 20 people attending if this hearing wasn’t at 3:00pm on Thursday afternoon. Those of us who use the bus to get home from work can’t attend the meetings. I’ve always thought it was a great deal as an unlimited ride monthly pass was only $10, then increased to $20 not that long ago, maybe too good of a deal?

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