The state hired a private firm to handle Medicaid trips instead of local Social Services departments last year, and they are using other providers besides county bus systems.
“Instead of booking a Medicaid trip with us, they would call local taxis or other transportation providers,” Brown said.
“This is affecting public bus systems in counties across the state.”
Another blow came in the form of less state “clean-up” money at the end of the year.
Brown explained that the state has a pot of about $10 million that it divides among the two dozen rural county transportation systems across the state.
“But they don’t spend it all. Most of it, but not all of it, and whatever is left, they give each county a check at the end of the year, and that usually covers any deficit we have,” Brown said.
“But it was less this year, and it didn’t cover our shortfall.”
He said two new county bus systems were added in the state last year, which took up more of the state money, meaning less for Clinton County.
A drop in enrollment of CCC students, who often use bus service, also hurt ridership, Brown said.
The county’s Transportation Committee looked at several options to cut costs, but none seem viable, Brown said.
“We looked at cutting all rural routes, we looked at cutting half the city routes, we looked at cutting some rural routes ... but none of them save money because when you cut routes, you lose riders and revenue, and your fixed costs do not change,” he said.
The committee also looked at increasing service to raise money, but that also did not work.
“We could add more bus runs, but we’d have some runs with no passengers, and you’re not going to make money that way,” he said.