Public transportation throughout Dickinson County and bicycle rentals are a couple projects that could be coming to this area.

Claire Mullen, director of mobility management with OCCK, updated the Rotary Club about public transportation in Kansas and Abilene last week.

Mullen said on July 1 OCCK took over the operation of Abilene’s Public Transportation.

“It is origin to destination, just like our regional paratransit services,” she said.

To schedule a ride contact (855)-577-4337.

“Rides can be scheduled two weeks in advance,” she said.

Fare remained the same at $3 roundtrip, $2 one way and $1 for each additional stop. Service hours in Abilene are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

She said all the busses are wheelchair accessible.

“We are fortunate that Memorial Health has partnered with us for rides to doctor’s appointments, dental appointments, vision appointments at no charge to riders in the city of Abilene,” she said. “We also provide free rides to the Senior Center for lunches and work with Neighbor to Neighbor in town.”

Currently OCCK operates two busses in Abilene.

“If ridership increases and it gets to the point where we are having to turn people away, there is a possibility we will talk to additional partners to see if that is something they would be willing to partner with us on where we could purchase another bus and expand,” she said.

She said the hope is to expand transportation to the entire county.

“We think that would be beneficial especially for medical appointments and employers,” she said. “We know the need for transportation is really great.”

Bike share

A bike sharing program has been implemented in eight counties, Mullen said.

“One community in each county received a number of bikes,” she said.

In those communities the bikes can be checked out for a fee.

Last June, 80 bikes with 17 stations were 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.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, the state’s largest health insurer, made an initial contribution of $160,000 to provide bikes and marketing support for the first year of the KANcycle program, with the intention of helping the program grow in coming years.

“We are hoping that we can add bikes here in Abilene as well, now that we have taken over transportation,” she said. “That is on the drawing board.”

She said there are eight other communities interested in the bike share program.

That would require additional funding.

“Blue Cross is very interested in promoting bike sharing and promoting a healthy community,” Mullen said. “We are talking to them about expanding.”

I-70 connection

OCCK operates the 81 Connection, providing transportation from Belleville to Salina with stops in Concordia, at Highway 24 and in Minneapolis.

A survey was conducted about the Interstate 70 route from Manhattan to Salina with a stop in Abilene.

Just in Dickinson County, there were over 250 responses.

“To us that was huge. That was more than the number of responses for the 81 Connection and it was all positive,” she said

She said a proposal has been sent to the Kansas Department of Transportation.

“It’s in KDOT’s hands currently. They are working on funding,” she said. “We know something like that would be a benefit. We want to make it happen. We are just waiting for KDOT to give us the okay.”

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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