Archive for Thursday, July 27, 2006

New bus service laudable attempt to resolve needs

July 27, 2006

De Soto's new FlexRide program developed through the cooperation of the city and Johnson Count Transit debuted Tuesday with a route that started in Clearview City, made scheduled stops at several city locations and moved on to western Shawnee. A bus was back in town Wednesday, to shuttle riders about the chosen stops in De Soto. In addition to fixed routes, the wheelchair-lift equipped buses will make pre-arranged stops to pick up and drop off riders requesting such service.

Past bus services offered in De Soto weren't successful in large part because they tried to offer a service without an understanding of what kind of service was needed.

The task force headed by Diana Zwahlen tried to rectify that basic shortcoming by asking potential riders what they needed. The task force also included those in the community, notably De Soto Multi-Service Coordinator Jodi Hitchcock and De Soto USD 232 planner Jack Deyoe and Jim Courtney of the Mr. Goodcents Foundation, who have direct experience with the transportation needs of the community.

The number of residents in De Soto without transportation, limited driving capacity and record high gas prices ought to provide a constituency for the program. Still, the task force members aren't promising they have found all the answers.

Another factor that makes FlexRide distinctive is its adaptability and the promise destinations, stops and other details will be changed to meet riders' needs.

We applaud the creativity the task force has displayed so far and its members' encouragement that others join in that spirit, especially in the business community, by looking at ways to tie into FlexRide's two-day-a-week schedule. Such actions could be key to the early prosperity of a program that could significantly increase the quality of life of many in the community.

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