The McKinney Urban Transit District set aside $270,000 for the implementation of a hardship pilot program during a Nov. 13 board meeting.
The MUTD board, which is made up of a handful of McKinney City Council members and representatives from Celina, Lowery Crossing, Princeton, Melissa and Prosper, makes transit decisions and handles transit funding for participating cities.
Currently, the MUTD runs a taxi-voucher service that provides transportation to those that qualify as low income, elderly or disabled for a fee based on distance traveled.
But the board pointed out at an Aug. 14 meeting that some potential riders still cannot afford the service despite the MUTD paying for 75% of the rides’ cost. According to a presentation given at the November meeting, the average cost per trip is $16.51. This means that riders are paying roughly $4.08 per trip, while the MUTD covers the remaining $12.38.
However, the board is looking to open up the program to more riders in need of transportation.
A hardship program was suggested, in which people facing particular crisis situations, such as homelessness or unemployment among other circumstances, could qualify for free rides.
The MUTD plans to do this by partnering with area nonprofits or social service agencies that will sponsor up to 10 riders each and pay for their portion of trips. The MUTD will still pay for the remaining 75%.
These agencies, once approved by the MUTD board at the next meeting scheduled for Feb. 5, will also be responsible for intake, eligibility checks, case management and trip verification for each rider.
So far, McKinney city staff has reached out to several local organizations, including Allen Community Outreach, Assistance Center of Collin County, Community Health Clinic, Community Life Line, Family Promise of Home County, Grace to Change, Hope Clinic, Hope Store and Shiloh Place, McKinney Transit Director Anthony Cao said.
Staff will bring a final list of agencies to the next meeting for board approval, Cao said. Once agencies are approved, the board plans to launch a 12-month trial period for the hardship program.
According to Cao, the service could start as soon as February 2020.
In addition, the MUTD board will now meet bimonthly instead of quarterly. After the Feb. 5 meeting, the board will meet on the third Wednesday of every other month at 6 p.m. in the chambers of McKinney City Hall.