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April 27, 2010 > Newark Paratransit changes

Newark Paratransit changes

By Meenu Gupta

The declining economy has created ongoing budget deficits that have required the City of Newark to make significant reductions in its expenditures. Newark Paratransit, which provides non-mandated special transportation for residents in Newark, has not escaped funding reductions. The city contracts with Satellite Housing, Inc. to provide door-to-door, wheelchair-accessible service for Newark seniors ages 65 and older and for people with disabilities, ages 18 and older.

Each year Newark must submit a funding application and a budget to the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority (ACTIA) outlining the paratransit services to be offered in the upcoming fiscal year (FY). ACTIA administers the distribution of Measure B funding, Alameda County's half-cent transportation sales tax, which is used to leverage additional funding for transportation throughout the county and helps finance the City of Newark's Paratransit Program. For FY 2010-11, Newark will receive approximately $122,702 in Measure B sales tax revenue. According to Community Services Director David Zehnder this figure is significantly lower than in previous years.

As a result of continued reduced Measure B funding, Newark Paratransit Program will see the following changes:

Sunday service, which translates to five hours weekly, will be eliminated. Sundays have the least volume of requested rides, an average of four riders per Sunday. In contrast, there is greater demand for services Monday through Friday and they will continue with a combined service capacity of 50 hours per week. To offset the complete loss of weekend paratransit service, ACTIA will continue the Measure B Gap funded subsidized Taxi Voucher program.

Transportation Coordinator hours will be reduced by 1.5 hours, from 27.5 hours weekly to 26 hours weekly. This reduction will result in less administrative oversight for the program and reduced customer service. As in the past, riders will have the ability to leave voice mail messages for the coordinator.

A fare increase of 50 cents for each one-way trip will take effect July 1, 2010. In Newark, trips will increase from $1.50 to $2.00 and out-of-Newark trips will increase from $2.50 to $3.00.

The City also utilizes Measure B funding to subsidize the Life Eldercare, Inc., Meals on Wheels service, which provides over 10,000 home-delivered meals annually to Newark residents. The proposed level of funding for FY 2010-11 will remain unchanged at $7,000.

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