PDRTA says community sure to feel effects of cutbacks

Board members with the Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority (PDRTA) say they're at a point where the rubber meets the road.

The board met Tuesday evening at PDRTA headquarters in Florence.

Ten of the 12 board members were present for the meeting.

Chairman Ed Robinson says they've talked about shortfalls in funding in recent weeks, but now reality is starting to sink in.

The Transportation Authority will go from 100 employees to 30 by the end of the week, and that's just the start of the ripple effect.

"We're going to lose about 70 employees. We're going to lose about 70 buses. Services are going to be cut from different areas so now people are going to begin to feel the reality of this whole thing," said Robinson.

Last week, the board voted to sell about 40 to 50 buses to help raise money.

According to Robinson, PDRTAs revenues started to decline several years ago when state officials changed the way they contract the Medicaid transportation program.

Robinson adds a third party entity was engaged to broker Medicaid transportation services.

The Transportation Authority makes about 435,000 trips a year through its scheduled routes and demand responses.

The authority receives federal and state grants primarily for capital equipment such as vehicles, according to its website. It says federal and state grants require a percentage of matching funds.

Since 1976, PDRTA has provided services in Florence, Darlington, Dillon, Marion, Marlboro and Chesterfield counties.

Robinson explained, "Once people feel the pinch , feel this thing that's gonna hit in another week or so, maybe that will be what's needed in order to make things work."

The board voted to change its bylaws and regulations to make it easier to apply for additional funding.

They're counting on the cities and counties using PDRTA's services to increase funding to keep the buses on the roads.