Agency to pay for van service

The money cannot be used for other WRTA functions.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Western Reserve Transit Authority trustees have approved an agreement with Mahoning County commissioners and the Department of Job and Family Services in which the county's JFS will pay WRTA 265,000 a year to oversee transportation services for JFS clients.
Under the agreement trustees approved Friday, WRTA will enter into contract with van companies that will provide the door-to-door transportation from clients' homes to work, child care sites or medical appointments.
A few months from now, JFS clients wishing to arrange such transportation will be given a toll-free telephone number at WRTA to call to schedule trips, said James J. Ferraro, the authority's executive director.
The new money is to be used only as a cost reimbursement for the JFS program and cannot be used for other WRTA functions, so it won't help alleviate the authority's budget crisis, which has caused service cutbacks, said Marianne Vaughn, authority treasurer.
WRTA plans to hire a mobility manager to run the new program, and probably a scheduler to take calls for rides, and pay for new phone lines and computer upgrades with the money, Vaughn said.
Until now, JFS has had an informal transportation arrangement, under which it has bought bus passes from WRTA for its clients. So far this year through Sept. 30, JFS has paid the transit authority 43,491 for bus passes.
JFS has also been contracting directly with a variety of door-to-door transportation services for its clients whose homes or jobs aren't on regular WRTA bus routes. The contract with WRTA will save JFS money because the transit authority will do all the ride scheduling at one location, Vaughn said. "We envision it to be much more efficient with scheduling," she concluded.

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