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TRPTA buses in jeopardy

The TRPTA public transportation may be in jeopardy. City officials from Ammon, Iona and Ucon met to get more information to discuss funding Tuesday.

City leaders are concerned that not enough people are riding the bus. One rarely ever sees a bus when driving around town, let alone a bus stop.

“Looking at the trip to buses I never see anyone in them… never,” said Ammon City Council memeber, Brad Christensen. “If we lose TRPTA what do we really lose,” he said.

The lack of filled seats on city buses make city officials hesitant to dish out tax dollars to public transportation. But Bonneville county commissioner, Lee Staker said usage is not the issue.

“There’s a lot of people out there that need to get to the doctor, they need to get to the hospital, they need to get the grocery store,” said Staker.

Policy changes in Medicaid have decreased the number of days dependents can use the public system. When Medicaid funding decreases in this way, TRPTA has to turn to the city for funding.

Documents shown in the meeting explain that 25 percent of bus rides are in Ammon. But that may be becuase the only stop is at the Ammon Wal-Mart, which is where many people from Idaho Falls shop. Ammon city officials explained that they want to make sure their constituents are the ones benefiting from bus stops in the Ammon area.

“Really we want to be efficient with the tax payer’s dollars. If we are allocating funds to a specific entity, we want to make sure they’re being used to service the citizens that paid those funds in the first place,” said Christensen.

Many may wonder just how much of the tax payers’ dollars have actually been put into TRPTA Transportation. The City of Idaho Falls contributed $99,800. Ammon contributed $5,000. Iona gave $1,500. Ucon contributed $500. All city funding is a match to federal grants.

The individual councils have not come up with a funding plan for this year. In the meantime, TRPTA is gathering more information to help the councils make their decision. A separate meeting will be held with the city of Idaho Falls at a later date.

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