Steven Tatlow, the community involvement coordinator of the Boone County Community Partnership, discussed the Mid-Missouri Transit Pilot Project at the February Sierra Club meeting Tuesday night.
The Mid-Missouri Transit Pilot Project seeks to coordinate public transportation in Boone County. Currently, at least 149 different organizations are either providing or funding transportation in the Boone County area.
In a lengthy study conducted by the Boone County Partnership and funded by 19 different organizations, it was found that there are three groups most in need of a better transportation system: seniors, persons with disabilities and low-income families.
These three groups may be dependent on public transportation to receive medical care, seek community resources and to maintain employment. And, as the study showed, the system may be failing these people.
Tatlow said that the pilot project could provide a huge opportunity to serve the community, but it is facing opposition when it comes to funding.
The county commissioners have said that they are supportive of the project, but that there simply is no money in the budget for this project.
"People don't get served until it (the pilot project) gets funded," Tatlow said. "I know looking at the budget (that) there's money."
There has been some new hope for funding with the passage of the economic stimulus package.
Members of both the Sierra Club and Tatlow hope that they will be able to receive federal stimulus transit funds because their project has already been federally vetted.
Alyce Turner, a member of the Energy and Environment Commission, as well as the Sierra Club, plans to begin talking to state representatives in order to get these funds.
Because the money for this project was not matched by an outside source in 2008, around $200,000 went outside of Boone County for transportation. That is something Turner hopes to change this year.
The Sierra Club, which supports environmental issues, invited Tatlow to speak about the project based on its environmental value and also due to their ongoing support for public transportation.
Member Win Colwill, who is also the Energy Chair of the League of Women Voters in both Boone County and Missouri, supports the plan because of how it will affect low-income people in addition to the environment.
She plans to discuss the project with the energy board at the League of Women Voters.
If Boone County is able to eventually coordinate transportation, it would be one of the first counties in the state to implement such a plan.
As Tatlow put it, "We can be leaders in Missouri or we can be playing catch-up."
More information about the full Mid-Missouri Transit Pilot Project can be found at the Boone County Community Partnership website at http://www.boonecountypartnership.com/m-mta/index.php.