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Transit Riders Make Plea at Public Hearing Not to Cut Service
Over 85 people attended the Public Hearing on transportation issues held by the Sussex County Transportation Citizens Advisory Committee in the Freeholders Meeting Room on Wednesday, June 16, 2010. The Hearing is held annually to inform the public about funding for the Senior Citizens and Disabled Residents Transportation Program (SCDRTAP) and Public Transportation Section 5311 funding for the coming year. For the third year in a row, the SCDRTAP allocation has been cut due to the decrease in Casino Revenue, which funds the program.
Highlands Workshop employees held signs saying things like, “We work, we pay taxes,” and “Save My Ride” as over two hours of written and oral testimony was received from more than thirty Sussex County residents.
Testimony was heard from employees at the Highlands Workshop who use the service to get to and from work; senior citizens and residents with disabilities who use the service to get to medical appointments, nutrition sites and grocery stores, and people who use public transit to get to and from dialysis and cancer treatments. Residents of the Sussex County Homestead, board members from SCARC and NORWESCAP, staff at Project Self-Sufficiency and Catholic Family and Community Services, a member of the Sussex County United We Ride Stakeholders Group and the Executive Director of United Way also offered testimony. Freeholder Susan Zellman also offered some pertinent remarks.
All those who testified had the same message: public transportation is a lifeline for those who use it and Sussex County needs more, not less, transportation.
Several speakers addressed a change in the Medicaid transportation system and the New Jersey Department of Human Services’ decision to subcontract Medicaid transportation to a private contractor, LogistiCare. This decision will cost Sussex County almost $100,000 in transportation funding and undermines the current shared ride system mandated by the federal United We Ride initiative, which has been providing a synergistic transportation system in Sussex County for the last four years.
Public support for Sussex County Skylands Ride was unanimous, as was the demand for increased services, such as evenings and weekends.