South Central Rural Transit Faces Budget Cuts

Rural Transit, which largely serves an elderly population, is cutting back its services after a decrease in federal funding.

bus stop

Photo: Facility Records (Flickr)

Rural Transit officials say they hope attention at the national level will bring more funding in the near future.

Rural Transit bus lines in four south-central Indiana counties have been forced to cut services because of a significant decrease in federal funding.

Area 10 Agency on Aging runs Rural Transit bus services in Monroe, Owen, Lawrence, and Putnam counties and focuses on people with disabilities and the elderly. Executive Director Kerry Conway says that includes the generation of baby boomers who are starting to retire and use public transit rather than owning a car.

“The baby boomers are now starting to retire and are getting older,” she says. “It’s sort of a perfect storm when it comes to transportation services particularly for the elderly.”

Rural Transit is not subsidized by the city, so it relies heavily on federal dollars as well as advertisements and donations.

Conway says funding was cut 14 percent this year but service has only been cut by 11 percent.

“People might have to wait a little longer, there are some things where we have to prioritize, but we’re doing our best,” she says.

Higher fuel prices on top of the federal budget cuts are increasing the strain on the busline’s cost of service. Conway says rural transportation is receiving more attention at the national level, so she expects to see a future increase in funding.

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