Low income bus service ending in Bartlesville

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. -- Low income bus service is coming to an end in Bartlesville.

The CityRide Circuit started in 2012 and was taken over by two churches this past September when funds were low.

Roger Bridendolph who uses the bus service said, “You know, I don’t know what I would’ve done to get around town to find work, to get to the places I need to go. I don’t know how I would’ve survived without it.”

He’s not alone. Volunteer driver Jeff Birk said, “There are lots of people that use the service for different reasons, but there are people who use it to get to work.”

“They’re the people who are serving us in the restaurants," said Fr. Lee Stephens with the Washington County Transportation Coalition. "They are people who are working as bank tellers. They’re people who are serving us, but we’re not doing really enough to serve them.”

Stephens is retired from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church who’s been overseeing the bus service for the past three months. But with a cost of up to $50,000 to keep it going, the church can no longer afford to keep the wheels turning without the city’s help.

“For anybody that’s trying to start out in life, with the economic status the way it is today, public transportation is a necessity,” Bridendolph said.

The city will still continue its CityRide service where you can call and have a driver pick you up. But Fr. Stephens says that does not solve the issue for a lot of low income families.

“For someone who’s on an hourly wage, $3 a trip is too much money,” Stephens said.

That’s why he’s pushing for the city council to put the low income bus service on the ballot and let the voters decide.

“That means they’re utility bill will go up about 75 cents a month. That would mean that we would be able to have an expanded system with 30-minute loops covering more of Bartlesville,” Stephens explained.

It would make an affordable route that would help residents like Bridendolph, who added, “I don’t know how a city can even begin to justify not funding public transportation.”

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