We’re glad to see that the York County Council still is solidly supportive of the York County Access program. This on-demand bus service provides an invaluable service to hundreds of county residents.
Last week, the council voted 6-1 to authorize the service to replace its aging fleet of buses using a combination of state money and separate funding. The buses are routinely replaced once they hit 150,000 miles or are five years old.
While the council must approve the transaction, the money for the transportation program comes from the state Department of Transportation and the York County Council on Aging, which runs the day-to-day operation. The DOT will give $220,000 to the county, which will pay $45,060 in matching funds.
Later, both the state money and the titles to the new buses will be transferred to the Council on Aging, which will reimburse the county for matching dollars.
York County Access has been a popular and well utilized service. It takes county residents of any age to medical appointments, grocery shopping and jobs for $2.50 per trip, no matter what the mileage is.
While the bus service is available to those of all ages, it is aimed at elderly and infirm residents who otherwise wouldn’t have access to affordable transportation. The county program was launched in 2006, and a similar transit service in Rock Hill – Dial-A-ride – was started in 2007 to serve residents within the city limits.
The city program is linked to York County Access and also is run by the Council on Aging. Without these services, many elderly and disabled residents would have to call a taxi or rely entirely on friends and relatives to transport them.
Before the low-cost bus services were initiated, some residents were paying $100 a month or more for rides to see a doctor or do routine errands. For those on fixed incomes, that was a significant expense.
Joe Cox was the only county councilman to vote against authorizing new buses for the county service. He argued, as he has before, that the heavy subsidization of the program by taxpayers was unjustified. He has said that the program should either be eliminated or self-supporting.
Neither the city nor the county service could reasonably be expected to be self-supporting and still provide affordable transportation to needy residents. But they never were meant to be self-supporting.
Both are services that use local, state and federal resources to help people with few, if any, other options for essential tasks such as trips to the doctor or shopping for food. It’s a program that allows people to remain independent rather than relying more heavily on full-service government-funded care.
While the service has its humanitarian side, it also is practical. It not only allows people to stay independent rather than becoming even more reliant on public welfare, it also allows people to stay employed and remain productive citizens.
There is one line of thinking that the private sector can meet these needs and that government involvement just makes the services more costly and less efficient. But the needs of these people had gone unmet by the private sector until this low-cost public transportation program was initiated.
And – kudos to the Council on Aging – it is run efficiently and, considering the overall benefits, at low cost to taxpayers. Thanks to these buses, homebound residents throughout the county are able to get around and perform tasks vital to their personal well being.
We are gratified that the majority of the council continues to support this much needed service.