NewsChannel 15 has learned the Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority (PDRTA) plans to cut nearly 70% of its budget due to revenue shortfalls, according to PDRTA board chairperson Ed Robinson.
"What we have to do is drive within our means . In order to do that based within our calculations, it's gonna require a 70 percent cut in our budget as well as our staff . And it's going to be catastrophic for low income people. And it's just sad," explained Robinson.
He said the board met Thursday night and decided they have to cut between 50 to 60 jobs and services.
PDRTA has a meeting with its employees Monday to discuss the jobs cuts.
Robinson said some of the services that's planned to be eliminated include Medicaid and Hope Health services, and possibly routes from Marion to Myrtle Beach.
"The county of Marion in order to keep that route going is going to have to come up with $135,000 annually. And if they don't come up then that route is going to have to be cut ," Robinson added.
He says PDRTA's revenues started to decline several years ago when state officials changed the way they contract the Medicaid transportation program. A third party entity was engaged to broker Medicaid transportation services, Robinson said.
Robinson believes the elimination of some services will have a devastating impact on the poor in the Pee Dee because so many people rely on PDRTA to get them to and from doctor's appointments and jobs.
Juanita Gibson is one of those people. She's depended on PDRTA for the past 15 years.
"That's my only means of riding and getting around. I have to get my grocery through PDRTA . And I have to get my medication and different things like that, so it's a must for me," said Gibson.
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.