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Government shutdown threatens Oats Transit

The partial government shutdown is hitting closer to home for elderly adults in need of transportation across northwest Missouri.

Posted: Jan. 17, 2019 7:04 PM
Updated: Jan. 18, 2019 1:28 PM

(ST.JOSEPH, Mo.) The partial government shutdown is hitting closer to home for elderly adults in need of transportation across northwest Missouri.

In St. Joseph the Oats Transit system is funded through an inner city grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Beth Langley, northwest regional director of Oats, said the partial government shutdown has blocked the bus service from receiving any federal funding.

Oats charges $2 for a one-way fare, and Langley said the low fares are typically used to help those on a fixed income make it to their medical appointments.

"We do a lot of daily transportation to the cancer center, we do a lot of physical therapy, we do a lot of cardiac rehab, plus we are a major dialysis transportation provider here within the city,"Langley said.

Thursday The Heartland Foundation agreed to fund medical transportation services in St. Joseph until the end of the shutdown; helping support transportation for upwards of 50 disabled and elderly adults each day.

However lack of funding has force the transit program to reduce services in other communities in northwest Missouri.

“We have cut some busses in rural parts, because the northwest region incompasses 18 counties,”Langley said. “We have cut some busses from Livingston County, in town in Chillicothe. We have cut busses in town, [in] Trenton.”

Langley said without access to reliable transportation, riders could be forced to make some tough decisions.

"We have a lot of riders that will ride everyday. Without this funding it's going to make them pick and choose what is a priority,"Langley said.

Langley said she is staying hopeful that the shutdown will end and federal dollars will be restored soon.

"We know this is a short term thing. We are here for the duration. We have been around for 47 years, we are not going anywhere,"Langley said.

Thursday marks the 27th day of the partial government shutdown.

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