Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
There’s concern the Fairbanks Borough’s ride service for the disabled may not be able to keep up with rising costs. Van Tran is seeing 18 percent annual growth in demand, and last week the assembly turned down measures, including a fare hike, aimed at supporting an alternate voucher program. Mayor Luke Hopkins told the assembly vouchers for cab rides are a proven option for some users.
Van Tran users pay $2 for rides that cost the borough $76 each to provide. The $1.4 million a year program is required to meet federal Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, but Borough Transportation Director Glenn Miller described vouchers to the assembly as an alternative for more than half of Van Tran users.
Van Tran users didn’t like the idea of raising fares to support the voucher program, and the assembly turned down a proposal to allocate additional money to fund it. Miller said the borough is preparing for a user eligibility audit to assess who really needs Van Tran. Privatization of the program is another possible cost cutting option. Anchorage and Juneau have contracted out their transportation services for the disabled, and substantially lower per rider costs. Some members of Fairbanks disabled community advocated for privatization at a recent assembly budget hearing.
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