HIRTA News Blog

Notice Regarding Cancellations

Brooke Ramsey - Monday, March 30, 2020

COVID-19 Notice

Brooke Ramsey - Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Driver Appreciation Day 3/18/2020

Brooke Ramsey - Monday, March 16, 2020

Driver Appreciation Day is Wednesday, 3/18, and now more than ever our HIRTA drivers need to know how much they are appreciated. Please give them an extra THANK YOU any time you ride this week, but especially on Wednesday!

COVID 19

Brooke Ramsey - Thursday, March 12, 2020

COVID-19 HIRTA Public Transit Notice

The safety and well-being of everyone who uses HIRTA is always our priority. We are actively monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and are taking steps to help keep our communities safe.

  • HIRTA is closely monitoring information from Iowa Department of Public Health to make sure our efforts in keeping those in our communities safe, are grounded in medical advice. If any rider or driver has been confirmed to have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19, we will be suspended them from service, and HIRTA staff will make every effort to notify anyone who would have been on the bus with them.
  • HIRTA drivers have disinfectant wipes and cleaners to use to clean the inside of our vehicles. Supplies are limited however, we are doing our best, and will prioritize as we need.
  • We ask all HIRTA customers to follow guidance from public health authorities.

ü  Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds

ü  Cough or sneeze into your elbow

ü  If you’re sick, stay home and away from others

 For more information, visit the Center for Disease Control (www.CDC.gov) website

If you have any concerns or questions, please contact us at erides@ridehirta.com or 1-877-686-0029

We are all in this uncharted arena together, so we appreciate you doing your part to keep our communities healthy and safe.

Thank you  

Julia Castillo

Executive Director

03/11/2020

Press Release: Simplified Scheduling

Brooke Ramsey - Tuesday, March 03, 2020


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Julia Castillo, Executive Director
jcastillo@ridehirta.com
515-309-9281

Brooke Ramsey, Business Development Manager
bramsey@ridehirta.com
515-309-9282

March 3, 2020

Heart of Iowa Regional Transit Agency (HIRTA) riders will begin getting around their counties using the agency’s new Simplified Scheduling model. The change is effective March 9. 2020.

The Simplified Scheduling model is designed to combine trips now only transporting one or two riders to create shuttles transporting three or more riders to use HIRTA’s resources more effectively. The goal in making scheduling changes now is to assure transportation is available for all that will need or want rides in the future.

“Simplified Scheduling is one part of our response to the rising cost of providing door-to-door affordable public transit at the same availability state and federal subsidies are capped,” said Julia Castillo, HIRTA Executive Director.

“One change in how Medicaid decided to fund Public Transit has had a devastating financial impact on HIRTA. We went from providing 121,000 rides in FY2017 to 39,000 rides in FY2019, with a loss of revenue from $1.9 million to $586,000. This not only affected those riding under Medicaid, but because we are a shared-ride service the costs per ride were shared too, and now that is no longer the case.

Our services won’t continue to exist if they aren’t sustainable. Making the best use of each dollar we receive, whether it is federal funding, voluntary funding from the counties and cities in our region or donations from the public, benefits our riders in the long-run.”

Castillo said “a one-way trip for a rider is calculated to cost on average between $17.98 and $23.36, depending on the county. And that is if the bus or van is routed to pick up and let off at least two other passengers on the route within the same half-hour. Single-rider, longer distance trips are costing HIRTA much more than we are being compensated, and we are no longer able to supplement the difference”.

HIRTA provides public transportation for residents of Boone, Dallas, Jasper, Madison, Marion, Story, and Warren counties.

“As we move forward in implementing our Simplified Scheduling model, the changes impact less than 1% of riders in the seven-counties’, however the financial impact will be much larger. Riders in more populated areas may notice changes in times of service, and riders in their counties’ less-populous communities will see a shift from random days of service to scheduled round-trip service at least one day-per-week, allowing them to schedule medical, shopping and other trips with more certainty,” said Castillo.

Riders likely to be most impacted are those who have used HIRTA to take them on out-of-county trips such as into Polk County. Those one-rider, long-distance trips are no longer being offered.

Castillo said she hopes the Simplified Scheduling model will allow HIRTA to continue offering a more robust regional service than is being offered by some of Iowa’s other regional public transportation systems.

“At HIRTA, we take pride knowing we do not restrict our ridership to only low-income residents who need handicapped-accessible, door-to-door service,” she said.

Simplified Scheduling is not the only step HIRTA is taking to improve its current cash flow and to strengthen its future financial viability. Last fall, HIRTA’s board of directors created a foundation, HEART of TRANSIT, to receive grants and donations.

“Without a separate 501c3 non-profit corporation, we weren’t eligible to apply for a lot of grants and while we could accept donations, not many members of the public were aware we could,” said Castillo. “We have received our first grant from United Way of Boone County, in which the money is being used to pay for round-trip rides in Boone County. We have also received specific grants to help pay for bus replacements and a few small individual donations as well. We hope corporate and non-profit donors in other counties will step up to help us continue to deliver services.”

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