By exploring the possibility of obtaining grant money, Kyle city leaders envision taking another stab at offering public transportation to residents.
Such was the direction Kyle City Council forwarded to city staff Dec. 11, this following the release of results of city survey on public transit.
The survey, which was conducted earlier this year, asked 600 residents if they would use public transportation, if they need it and if they support the city funding it.
More than 80 percent of respondents said they would support a new system, but fewer said they needed it. Of those who do require transportation assistance, the majority of respondents needed transportation to obtain medical care and purchase groceries.
Kyle city officials hope to employ a similar funding tactic used by the city of Buda prior to the creation of its public transportation initiative.
Buda’s current transportation system, Buda Seniors Taking A Ride (S.T.A.R) exclusively serves senior citizens living with the city. The system also transports residents to Kyle and San Marcos for shopping, errands and non-emergency doctor’s appointments. The service is currently limited to three days a week.
According to Buda officials, a $5,000 grant goes toward bus costs and the rest is covered by in the city’s annual budget.
The program caught Kyle’s interest and city officials are considering costs needed to implement a similar service after determining both towns might not reasonably be able to share the service.
“I’m not sure that (Buda) is ready to expand or join forces with us,” said Kyle communications specialist Kim Hilsenbeck. “That’s not to say that they shut it down or that it couldn’t happen in the future.”
In the meantime, Hilsenbeck and other staff members will look into grants similar to Buda’s and see how feasible it would be to cover the majority of a bus to serve Kyle residents. Other services include a Chariot shuttle which would offer seven seats and be ADA compliant at a base cost of $120,000 annually. That vehicle would operate similarly to the S.T.A.R.
The idea is the latest attempt by Kyle officials to implement some sort of public transport in town. Kyle had previously paid for Capital Metro’s Capital Area Rural Transportation Service (CARTS), a federally subsidized transportation program, to operate until funding was pulled in 2015. The service ran twice a week with low ridership and high cost.
Later, Kyle city staff proposed offering local taxi services, which was limited by its ability to take residents to a variety of places. That plan cost Kyle $25 an hour and resident $3 a ride. It was also discontinued for its low ridership.
Hilsenbeck recommended the city revisit the idea in two years given that there is no money in the city’s budget that has been specifically earmarked for a new transportation service.
Council members requested staff continue their research into grant options and they believe they can make room in the budget and aim to implement a service as soon as possible.
“I think we’re looking for a solution and if we come up with a great solution, we’ll be willing to take action,” said Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell.