Rowan Transit System applies for grant to replace vehicles

Published 12:03 am Friday, January 6, 2023

SALISBURY — Rowan Transit System has filed an application to receive the Fiscal Year 2024 Combined Capital Grant, which is distributed by the North Carolina Public Transportation Division.

Transit Director Valerie Steele, who is also airport director, gave a presentation of what the grant funds will be used for during the Rowan County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday.

If the application is accepted, the funds will mainly be used to replace 11 of the 26 vans that provide transit services for those with medical conditions in rural parts of the county. The raised-roof vans are equipped with lifts for those in wheelchairs.

The county would receive just over $1 million for transit services, with  90% of the funds, or $956,587 being supplied by the grant. The state would provide the remaining 10%, which is $106,288 and the county would match the state’s amount.

Grant applicants were advised that the state may not be able to participate in supplying the remaining 10% and to be prepared for a 20% local match, so the Rowan Transit System requested $212,575 from the commissioners, just in case.

Steele explained that in the past the state has always been able to supply the funds. If the application for the grant is accepted, the funds will be used during fiscal year 2024.

A public hearing was held for residents to give comments on transportation needs and the grant application. No one spoke.

The commissioners voted 4-0 to apply for the grant. Commissioner Judy Klusman was not in attendance.

“This is for fiscal year 2024, so we set everything up in advance so when we do our budget we make sure that we have the $200,000 in case we need it,” Steele said.

During fiscal year 2022, vehicle orders were canceled by the manufacturer because of chip shortages and cost changes, so no vehicles came in.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation stipulates that any vehicle that has over 100,000 miles has to be replaced. The Rowan Transit System has 16 vehicles over that, but the grant funds will only be enough to replace 11 vehicles.

Steele said Rowan Transit System provides door-to-door services through Rowan Individual Transportation Assistance, or RITA, which provides rides to medical appointments one day per week. The fare is $2 per trip for all riders except those eligible for certain grant-funded programs or Medicaid.

“We also do Medicaid transportation through the Department of Social Services and we provide Rowan Vocational Opportunities, which is right next door to the transit office, so those with special needs can get there,” Steele said. “We also transport for dialysis, vestavia dialysis and adult day care at Trinity Living Center.”

Between July and November, the Rowan Transit System has provided over 40,000 trips for those using the service.