By Clint Brown The Chronicle
The Pella Chronicle
---- — Last week the Pella City council approved a Public Transportation Partnership Agreement between the City of Pella, Iowa, and Heart of Iowa Regional Transit Agency (HIRTA).
This resolution approves a public transportation agreement between the City of Pella and HIRTA. In October 2013, City staff participated in a roundtable discussion with other transportation providers in the community, the goal of this discussion was to identify ways to improve transportation services in the community and eliminate inefficiencies and gaps in transportation services. Through these meetings, staff was able to identify a similar transportation service provided in the community by HIRTA.
In November and December of 2013, Council reviewed and discussed the City’s van service and the service provided by HIRTA. At the conclusion of these discussions Council directed staff to proceed with a partnership agreement which would transition the City’s van service to HIRTA. Listed below is a summary of the proposed partnership agreement:
Contract term and transition timeline
The agreement was to be effective on January 7, 2014 and remain into effect thru June 30, 2015. After this initial period, the agreement would be reviewed by the City Council on an annual basis. As a part of the transition to HIRTA, staff would still operate the City’s van service thru January 31, 2014. Under this plan, current riders would be given educational materials and encouraged to transition to HIRTA services throughout the month of January.
The annual subsidy for the City’s van service is approximately $30,000. In an effort to assist HIRTA with the initial transition of our van service, staff proposed Pella deed the City van to HIRTA by April 1, 2014. This would give staff approximately 60 days to make sure the transition to HIRTA is functioning as intended before the City deeds its van to HIRTA. The estimated value of the City’s van is approximately $13,000 which would then constitute the City’s contribution to HIRTA for the time period of March 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015. Future subsidies to HIRTA after June 30, 2015 would then be determined by Council on an annual basis.
Proposed Transportation Enhancements
The intent of the transition to HIRTA would be to enhance transportation services in our community. Likewise, City staff believes it is wise to focus initially on transitioning services to HIRTA and making sure this functions smoothly before undertaking significant transportation enhancements. Under this plan, an annual review of the transportation services would be performed in December of each year, with the first evaluation occurring in December of 2014. Prior to the evaluation, HIRTA would perform due diligence on potential transportation enhancements in the community and the necessary subsidy for the services. The Council would then be able to consider the proposal by HIRTA during its annual budget preparations. Potential transportation enhancements that could be considered in the future include the following:
-Providing a free shuttle for 60+ year old residents from various assisted living facilities and/or apartment complexes in Pella to the Senior Nutrition Program at the Community Center for participation in activities and lunch program.
-In town shuttle with regular stops around Pella — Hospital, Wal-Mart, Hy-Vee, Fareway, Central Business District.
-Providing transportation from rural areas and other communities into Pella for shopping days.
-Providing transportation to Pella from rural areas or other communities during Tulip Time.
-Providing shuttle services during City Events like 4th of July.
-Providing transportation to the new Pella Sports Complex.
HIRTA is also willing to offer employment to the City’s current van drivers provided they participate in their application process and pass the required training and testing. In addition, if Council approves a partnership with HIRTA, City staff plans to evaluate administrative staffing since we will no longer be performing dispatching services for the City’s van service.
Currently HIRTA operating hours are Monday-Friday 7 a.m. - 6 p.m.. Saturday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. The general public pays $2/trip and Seniors (60+) can ride for $1/trip. HIRTA provides door-to-door service including assistance for those riders who cannot enter or exit the vehicle on their own accord. Offers transportation to other communities including Knoxville and Des Moines.