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August 12, 2014 09:55 PM

Para-Transit System Focus Of Potential Transit System Changes

Sioux Falls, SD

City leaders and business owners have engaged the public for almost a year about ways to strengthen the city's public transit system, and the public transit task force is making its recommendations.

"What if instead of a liability, we treat our transit system as an asset. An underutilized and somewhat hidden asset, perhaps, but one of really significant value to this community," April Smith said.

One of the notable changes the task force is recommending is limiting the number of funded para-transit routes. The proposal could lead to companies like Dakotabilities to find an alternate way of bringing in some of their employees.

"All we looked at was cutting para-transit to benefit transit. We didn't look at other avenues or other ways to approach the subject," Heidi Loof said.

The recommendation would limit the range in the city where para-transit routes would go, and those who use the service daily have some reservations.

"What that will do is not enable people to go to the ophthalmology building, to the urology building or to the Avera Wellness Center," Deb Risteg said.

"If some of these changes go through, then my church would be outside the boundary, and I've been part of that community for 15 years," Kristin Wiley said.

However, not everyone shared the concerns.

"There may be some things that we need to work with in making the plan go forward, but I really, honestly believe that this is a good plan," Shelly Hart said.

The task force recommendation was unanimously approved, but more discussion on the proposed changes will be coming in the near future.

"Those finds are reflected in the report and should be considered a good starting place. A good starting point," Rex Rolfing said.

"It's symbolic in nature, just recognizing the work of the task force and thanking them for what they did. We are not implementing any of these things tonight," Dean Karsky said.

The plan would be that as the para-transit routes are reduced, a non-profit transit system would be put in its place to take care of anyone who needs the service. The task force is still looking into other options to maintain and improve the city's para-transit system.

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