City, County Transit Providers Concerned about Potential Loss of Funding

The Canby City Council has authorized Mayor Brian Hodson to send a letter to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Ways and Means, addressing concerns about potential cuts to state transportation funds that could drastically impact the services Canby Area Transit provides to local seniors and people with disabilities.

CAT receives approximately $120,000 from the state annually in the form of Special Transportation Funds, or STF, which are set aside to serve the transportation needs of disabled and senior Oregonians. However, the new biennial budget proposed by Gov. Kate Brown included no general fund revenue for STF, and the revised budget put out by Ways and Means restored only a portion of it.

Canby Transit Director Julie Wehling says there is some speculation that legislators may have mistakenly conflated STF funding with the new Statewide Transit Improvement Fund, also called STIF. … You can see why they might be confused.

It’s a serious problem because CAT isn’t eligible for STIF funding, at least not under the existing regulations. If they lose all of even a portion of the STF funding they currently receive, there’s a good chance they may have to cut back on some of the trips they currently provide for Canby residents to access medical, education and employment services in Oregon City, without having to transfer between CAT and TriMet halfway.

“Imagine forcing frail, often ill, individuals to transfer between services in the midst of an 8-10 mile trip to and from a medical appointment,” Mayor Hodson’s letter says. “So far this year, CAT has provided 7.6 transfer-less rides per service day. These trips are provided to the most vulnerable individuals.”

The letter urges the Ways and Means committee to restore the full $10 million the STF program received in the previous biennium. Without it, Mayor Hodson fears that CAT services like the one we just described could soon be going away.

“These programs already operate with limited revenue and provide lean, efficient, coordinated services,” he wrote. “Many STF programs have nothing left to cut.”

A report indicated that transportation providers across Clackamas County stand to lose more than $800,000 if the funding is not restored, which would translate to an estimated reduction of 62,849 rides for seniors and those with disabilities. Canby’s portion of that would represent over 1,600 rides, which is more than a tenth of the total rides they provide annually.

Click here to read Mayor Brian Hodson’s letter to the Ways and Means committee.

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