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Dial-a-Ride workshop draws crowd

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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For an hour and a half Monday night, riders of Lincoln’s Dial-a-Ride gathered to help the city determine the needs for its future use. The workshop, which began at 6 p.m., was designed to determine the level of need for transportation to be reinstated to the Roseville Galleria and Wal-Mart. “The City Council wanted us to consider what alternatives there might be regarding this particular service,” said Terry Rodrigue, interim director of Public Works for the city of Lincoln, which operates the Dial-a-Ride service. Residents began raising concerns after service to the Galleria and Wal-Mart stopped without warning in February, and they are hoping to get it reinstated. Dial-a-Ride is currently available for door-to-door service within the city for the cost of $2 per ride. “I’m sure there’s demand,” Rodrigue said. “I don’t need to be convinced a lot of you need this.” The city currently has a once-per-month route to Wal-Mart, but meeting attendees said that is not frequent enough, especially with many of them purchasing groceries at Wal-Mart. “The reason we want to go to Wal-Mart is we can’t afford Safeway and Raley’s,” said Donna Oliver, who regularly uses Dial-a-Ride. “We have a right to have (the service).” When asked, most residents agreed that they would accept a slightly higher fee to go the extra distance. “We’re not asking for free,” Oliver said. In talking with the riders, Rodrigue determined that most would be happy with fixed routes to the Galleria twice per week, with a similar schedule for Wal-Mart. Reinstating the service, however, does pose a problem. “Really, what’s going to happen is the more service we provide out of town, the less service we can provide in town,” Rodrigue said. That has also been a problem in the past, as the service has only two buses. “It made things real rough,” said Transit Supervisor Gail Williams. “It made things real tight here in town.” Having heard the attendees’ concerns, Rodrigue said he will be putting together a set of options to bring to the Lincoln City Council in the near future. Reinstating the service, if possible, will require approval from the Council, Rodrigue said. “This whole thing is definitely a balancing act for everyone,” Rodrigue said. Oliver said she thought the meeting went well and was helpful. Angela Burton, another rider, agreed with Oliver’s assessment. “It definitely gave us a voice,” Burton said. “There’s a lot we’re not happy with, and I’m very glad I came and was able to speak.” Brandon Darnell can be reached by e-mail at brandond@goldcountrymedia.com.