City investigating expanding transit system

The discussions are still very preliminary, but the City of Galesburg is looking into what it would take to essentially expand its transit system to cover most — if not all — of Knox County, through the formation of a mass transit district.

City Public Works Director Wayne Carl tells WGIL a lot of research still needs to be done including costs and how to pay for it, if a need is any indication, it just might work.

“In talking to the staff in both Galesburg Transit and Handivan, it’s usually every day that somebody will call needing assistance either going to medical appointments or shopping or get to their job. And so, they get calls from Knoxville, Wataga, Abingdon, all over.”

Carl says that’s callers from areas that neither Galesburg Transit nor Handi-van serves, and areas, where he says sometimes transportation from other social service agencies, can’t always get to.

Now that the Public Transportation Advisory Commission has heard about the idea, a City Council work session is planned on the matter in the coming weeks.

Carl says the Galesburg Transit and Handi-Van systems get calls almost daily from people outside the city needing transportation, coupled with problems other social service agencies providing transportation sometimes have serving those areas.

He adds that from a financial standpoint, forming a mass transit district might be beneficial.

“If we were able to form a mass-transit district or serve all of Knox County under our current structure but just take on some more service contracts with some of the other providers like VNA or Bridgeway. We could possibly reduce that $240,000 contribution the city puts down into the operations right now down to zero if we were able to get enough contracts for service.”

That’s the city’s contribution toward the nearly two million dollars it takes to operate both Galesburg Transit and HandiVan currently — with most of the rest being state and federal dollars.

A city council work session, Carl says, is expected to be held on the matter in the coming weeks.

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