July 10, 2014 Meeting

Meeting Agenda – July 10, 3:30-5:00
Location: Community Foundation of the Ozarks

I.   Welcome – Greg Burris & Gail Smart
 
II.  Poverty Simulation Outreach by Sector: Update

  1. Proposed goal: 25 simulations by July 1, 2015

 III. Presentation: Safety

  1. Clay Goddard, Springfield-Greene County Health Department
  2. David Hall, Fire Chief
  3. Cara Erwin, Fire Department Educator

IV. Questions and Discussion
 
V.  Adjourn

 

Commission Attendees:     

  • Greg Burris, Springfield City Manager
  • Sherry Coker, Ozark Technical Community College
  • Brendan Griesemer, City of Springfield
  • John Horton, Rotary Clubs of Springfield
  • David Jayne, Central Assembly of God
  • Chris Jones, City Utilities
  • Mary Kromrey, Healthy Living Alliance
  • Traci Louvier, Tuthill Vacuum & Blower System
  • Francine Pratt, United Way Board of Directors
  • Linda Ramey-Greiwe, Springfield News-Leader
  • Tim Rosenbury, Butler Rosenbury & Partners
  • Winter Skelton, Community Foundation of the Ozarks
  • Larry Spilker, Buckhorn, Inc.
  • Dr. Mike Stout, Missouri State University
  • Jaimie Trussell, Convoy of Hope

Presenters:

  • Chris Jones, City Utilities
  • Justin Herrell, Springfield Public Schools
  • Janet Dankert, CPO

Staff:

  • Janet Dankert, CPO
  • Trent Sims, CPO
  • Myra Massey, CPO

Meeting Notes:

Chair Greg Burris welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked them for attending.

Materials for the Poverty Simulation Outreach are being gathered by Gail, Greg, Janet, & Cora and will be available soon to make it easier to reach out by sector to recruit organizations to participate. Greg asked for reports from those sectors at the next meeting.

The topic for the meeting was Transportation, with Chris Jones of City Utilities, Justin Herrell of Springfield Public Schools, and Janet Dankert with CPO as the presenters. Greg turned the program over to Chris.

Chris covered four areas of CU Transit beginning with an overview of the system. Transit arrived in Springfield in 1881 with mule drawn trolley cars and by 1889 the trollies were run by electricity. In the early 1900’s Springfield Traction operated most of the trolley cars in Springfield, with gasoline engine buses arriving in 1937. In 1945 the City purchased Springfield Traction Co. and Springfield Gas & Electric. CU is the only utility in the country that provides transit service.

Two types of services are available: Fixed Route Services with buses covering the same route each day; and Para Transit which is available for individuals who are unable to ride the fixed route buses because of disabilities. Para Transit is more of a curb to curb service rather than between fixed bus stops. Cost to ride per person is determined by age group; adult, youth or student, and elderly or disabled. A person may pay for a single ride and up to a 31-day unlimited ride pass. Of the 17 cities Springfield uses as benchmarks, Springfield has the lowest fares. Approximately 79% of the City of Springfield is covered by bus routes.

More than 60% of the ridership earn less than $15,000.00. Challenges for the transportation-dependent include service coverage, service frequency, cost, weather, reliability, and purchasing passes. Passes are only available for purchase at City Utilities. Passes will be available at the new transfer station when it is completed, and ticket vending is being considered as well. Transportation alternatives for the under-resource in the area are few: ride share, scooters, bicycling, walking. Being transit- dependent (vs. choice) has an impact on the passengers’ finances and schedule flexibility.

City Utilities is looking at opportunities to improve the transit system: Ladders of Opportunity grant will be pursued to purchase new buses; a community room at the new transfer station; ticket vending, Intelligent Transportation System (ITS); ¾ cent transportation sales tax.

Justin Herrell, Associate Superintendent of Springfield Public Schools Secondary Education, was invited to get the school system’s perspective of transit as it pertains to students. Dr. Herrell provided the following facts:

  • SPS offers transportation to high school students who live 3.5 miles from school and 1.5 miles for grades K-8
  • About 11,600 students ride the bus at some point during the day;
  • Many high schools students take advantage of CU’s buses;
  • Groups of high school students have fund raisers at school to provide passes for students;
  • Care to Learn contributed $15,000.00 last year to assist in various ways in providing transportation;
  • Five attendance officers, employed by the school, will help transport students in emergencies; however, they are spread across 54 sites;
  • Pay-to-Ride is offered to students who live inside the ridership distance, paying to ride the school buses if there is room on the bus at a cost of $528.00;
  • If the student qualifies for free and reduced lunch, that cost is cut in half, but even the reduced cost is too much for many families;
  • Transportation for special needs students is paid by the federal system;
  • About 500 students who qualify based on McKinney-Vento as being homeless;
  • Lack of transportation is the number two reason for absences.

Greg asked Dr. Herrell if he could provide a dollar amount that would be needed to cover transportation cost for students who do not qualify for busing. He said that would be difficult because some students will not ask for help; however, he would try to provide the Commission with this information.

An advisory committee of six families has been formed with the assistance of Brooke Ash, senior social worker for CPO. It consists of two single moms, a single dad, two couples, and a single woman considered the “grandmother of the neighborhood.” Brooke interviewed the members of this committee to determine what they considered barriers to transportation. Janet brought that information to the table. The committee members shared their concerns about owning a car and the disadvantages of depending on public transportation:

Own car:

  • The cost to keep a car legal (inspections/tags/insurance)-families often resort to going without some of these things and run the risk of getting a ticket, or losing their license, etc.
  • Maintenance of the car-tires, oil change, other repairs that arise-owning a car is expensive, owning an unreliable car is even more expensive.

Public Transportation/No car:

  • Prevents you from being able to pick up and go on a moment’s notice (i.e. an emergency, etc.) – buses don’t run frequently enough.
  • Hard to get around when you don’t have all day to spend to get to and from an appointment/job interview/errands-takes a long time to get around, families who are tight on time are prevented from being able to get out and do things together (i.e. library, pool, zoo, etc.).
  • Hard to get around with children-bus stops are sometimes blocks away from where you need to get on or off and that can be difficult when the weather is bad (extreme heat, rain, cold) and/or when you’re trying to corral children.
  • Difficult to take public transportation when you need to grocery shop or do laundry-hard to carry much when you’re walking blocks to and/or from a stop.
  • Weekend has a limited number of buses running-more difficult to get around.
  • Takes a good deal of coordination to use public transportation-work, child care, shopping, etc.- families don’t always have the time or the ability to plan far enough ahead.
  • Using a bicycle works only if you don’t have small children who need transportation to day care or school.

The ultimate goal is to have some or all of the members of this group attend Commission meetings to provide their perspective on being under-sourced.

Mary Kromrey shared benefits of active, or people-powered, transportation, incorporating walking and biking into the daily routine:

  • It promotes improved health;
  • Provides mobility for everyone;
  • It is more equitable;
  • It is safe and accessible;
  • It is good for the economy;
  • Active transportation addresses a variety of the Field Guide 2030 themes.

During discussion several questions, comments, and suggestions rose to the top:

Greg asked, “What if we carved $2M a year out of the budget, how could it be spent most effectively?”

  • Dedicated lanes for bicycles;
  • Spend on mass transit instead of more lanes on streets;
  • Ride share programs – OTO has developed an on-line system to encourage this but it has been used very little;
  • OTO did a survey including Springfield and its suburban areas regarding a regional transit service; everyone was in until the cost factor was revealed;
  • The Link – North to south beginning at Doling Park and ending at Cox South;
  • Express bus running from 6:00-8:00 a.m. & 4:00-6:00 p.m.

After these comments, another question arose, “Which problem are we trying to solve, making transportation availability easier for the under-resourced or for the middle class?”

  • Reduced fare or free rides to students during school hours on school days only;
  • Any action towards improving the transit system would ultimately help both.
  • Isabel’s House worked with faith-based organizations that were able to provide bus passes. The churches didn’t have a lot of revenue but could help at that level.
  • CU bus driver started a fund at CFO called Pennies for Passes that was very effective. The bus drivers knew who their regular riders were and which ones needed assistance and had passes available for them;
  • Reduced fare or free rides to students during school hours on school days only.

The next meeting will be held July 10th at CFO. Please be aware, this is a change in schedule. The meeting after that will be July 17th at KY3.