Most common use of Missouri’s rural public transit shifts from medical needs to employment


(KMOV) — Top administrators of Missouri’s largest transportation providers presented their annual “State of Transit in Missouri” address on Tuesday.
Among the agencies that spoke in the virtual presentation were Bi-State Development, which operates Metro busses and the MetroLink, The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, and OATS, the largest rural transit provider in the country.
More than 156,000 passengers travel on busses each day in Missouri.
OATS Executive Director Dorothy Yeager said in the last few years, the main need for the system has changed.
“Historically, it’s been medical,” Yeager said.” “We’ve seen a shift with more demand for employment transportation, primarily for people with disabilities in rural Missouri who need to get to work.”
Another major challenge being faced by transit providers in urban and rural areas is hiring and keeping enough drivers and staff to run all the scheduled routes.
“Our most important investment right now is our workforce,” said Taulby Roach, President and CEO of Bi-State Development. “My board has said so, I’m committed to doing that. I need to be sure that we’re focused on that.”
Roach said his agency is investing the majority of its share of a new influx of $11.7 million in state funds toward boosting current staff salaries and offering $5,000 hiring bonuses for new workers.
That $11.7 million in state money is being split between 32 transit providers across the state.
In the near future, these leaders also predict a shift toward hybrid or low-emission vehicles, but it’s unclear how near that future is.
Copyright 2023 KMOV. All rights reserved.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here