COUNTY CONSOLIDATION PLAN READY TO LEAVE THE GATE
05-21-10 - 11:10 a.m. - With consolidation the buzz word in state and national government and transportation services askew in Columbia County, the county’s transportation services should be consolidated to provide more in-depth coverage at a reduced cost. That's the message of an about-to-be-released report.
Ken Flood, Commissioner of Planning and Economic Development, told ccSCOOP that the study’s results are being finalized and “numbers verified.” He said that the report to be presented to the Columbia County Board of Supervisors Planning and Transportation Committee on May 25 will "on general" call for consolidation of services.
The several-month study, being carried out by an independent firm, has resulted in the collection of data from such agencies as the Office for the Aging, Mental Health, Social Services, Veterans’ Service Agency, and even the bus company currently providing service in the county, as well as other agencies that transport residents to various locations. The goal of the study, which is being funded through a federal grant, is to develop a plan that place the transportation needs of clients of those agencies under one umbrella. “We are looking at an expanded public transportation system with perhaps Medicaid clients being asked to take a public bus rather instead of a cab,” Flood said.
Such an example—if spread across several clients—would result in lower Medicaid costs for the county. While Flood was mum on the details of the plan, other savings could potentially be found in consolidating bus runs to Albany for veterans' programs with the existing bus service that brings state workers to and from their jobs in Albany on weekdays. Still more savings might be realized if senior citizens needing a ride to a doctor’s appointment made use of a countywide service rather than the RIDE program or a taxi.
Once approved, the plan will be implemented in stages, Flood said, with similar services merging together at first and the process analyzed and adjusted before additional services are merged into the system.
Flood said the City of Hudson, which maintains its own bus service, has been involved in the study, though consolidation of the City's bus service into the county plan is not on the table. “The only request we have made is for expanded service for our residents out to the Shop Rites, Price Choppers, and shopping plazas,” said Mayor Rick Scalera.
The mayor said the city would like to see the current county bus service to city residents expanded from its present end time of about 1:30 p.m. on weekdays to include service for those who work during the week. “We’d like to see a service that would allow people getting home from work to get to the outlying areas to do their shopping,” Scalera said.
Flood confirmed the City’s request is part of the plan being reviewed.