The Kansas Department of Transportation has given its approval of OCCK taking over the city of Abilene’s public transportation, Interim City Manager Jane Foltz told the Abilene City Commission at a study session earlier this week.
The city of Abilene primarily provides demand-response transportation as well as curb-to-curb service through the Parks and Recreation Department.
Foltz, director of the parks department, said the process of OCCK taking on the public transportation has been a long one.
“There are so many regulations now, it is time for a professional group to take it on,” Foltz said.
She said OCCK has a proven track record.
The city would provide $15,000 in matching funding. The Abilene City Commission must approve the change.
Michelle Griffin, OCCK transportation director, said the current staff and vehicle would be utilized.
“We are going to keep the same logo on the side, just have our phone number on it,” she said. “That will be the one change that will take place. Instead of calling the parks and rec department, they are going to call our dispatch office in Salina through an 800 number.”
The transition would take place on July 1.
“We have a very good plan for this. We are excited about the opportunity,” Griffin said.
She said OCCK plans to continue to provide the 1,100 rides every month.
“But at some point we would like to expand that throughout the county. We know there are a lot of unmet needs through the county and we would like to be that solution.”
Training for driver defensive driving, first aide and CPR would be provided. A full-service maintenance facility in Salina would also be utilized.
She said there are about 70 employees currently in the OCCK transportation department.
“We are constantly growing,” she said. “We are ready to start a new partnership with everyone in Abilene and Dickinson County.”
Claire Mullen, mobility manager, said OCCK is starting a bike sharing program in eight communities.
Blue Cross Blue Shield is funding the program which started this month.
Eighty bikes with 17 stations will be strategically distributed between the eight communities to use for on-demand, local trips. Riders join the program by signing up for annual memberships or pay-as-you-go. Annual memberships will be $30 with trips under 1 hour being free, student annual memberships will be $20 with trips under 1 hour being free, and pay-as-you-go will be $1.50 every 30 minutes.
“We want to help bring additional transportation options to our small rural communities that might not otherwise have those opportunities,” Mullen said.
She said OCCK currently has a Belleville to Salina route.
Mullen said it is working on a Manhattan to Salina route with possibly two stops in Abilene at the truck stops.
Contact Tim Horan at firstname.lastname@example.org.