OATS switching to fare-based system

OATS buses like this one have been operating in 15 counties in Central Missouri.

OATS buses like this one have been operating in 15 counties in Central Missouri.

Since 1971, OATS has provided transportation to Mid-Missouri residents asking only for suggested contributions in return.

Now with the beginning of a new fiscal year, OATS is implementing a new fare structure to balance the fiscal year 2014 budget.

The new fare system will be effective July 1.

“Switching to a fare-based system is necessary, allowing us to stretch our state and federal dollars farther,” said Jack Heusted, OATS Mid-Missouri regional director. “Currently rider contributions make up only 4 percent of our company’s revenue. In the last few years, OATS has seen significant cuts in state and federal funding, as well as cuts to contract-based service. Transportation is a top priority for so many area residents, so a fare structure is necessary to avoid any additional route cuts and/or service delays in the Mid-Missouri region.”

The Mid-Missouri region is comprised of 15 counties. Last year, OATS provided 110,676 trips to 3,838 people in the Mid-Missouri region. A large percentage of those trips were for medical, nutrition, essential shopping and business-related errands.

Fares will range from $5 to $9 each way for rural towns and areas in Mid-Missouri.

Federal funding does cover partial rural service, but it’s still not enough to cover 100 percent of the trips.

OATS Inc. is a private, non-profit transportation provider serving the elderly, disabled and others who need transportation assistance in rural areas of 87 Missouri counties. OATS is funded, in part, by an allotment of federal funds from the Missouri Department of Transportation, and through contracts with Missouri Elderly and Handicapped Transportation Assistance Program (MEHTAP), private contracts, donations and rider contributions.

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