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Public transportation use up in Whiteside County

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(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@svnmail.com)
Driver Mike Love helps Elena Rocha of Sterling with her bag as she enters the Whiteside County Public Transportation bus in this December 2009 file photo.

STERLING – A surge in ridership in two towns has bumped up the overall number of Whiteside County Public Transportation users so far this year.

Since December, ridership has increased to 180 clients a day, up from 150, thanks to more riders in the Prophetstown and Morrison areas, Whiteside County transportation manager Cris Scribner said.

In addition, Whiteside County last week began transporting Wahl Clipper Corp. employees in Sterling between work and their homes.

Two new drivers were hired to help transfer people to and from the factory during the second and third shifts every day. Wahl Clipper employees can be dropped off during the midafternoon and picked up from work between 1 and 3 a.m.

More people also are using public transportation for rides to the Northern Illinois Cancer Treatment Center and Sinnissippi Centers, which halted its bus service less than a month ago, Scribner said.

“This has resulted in a huge increase in riders,” Scribner said.

Funding for the Whiteside County transportation system comes primarily from two sources: federal Department of Transportation grants and rider fares. Whiteside recently applied for a grant through the Job Access Reverse Commute program, which allows companies to take money out of pretax dollars for transportation.

To catch a ride

The Whiteside County Public Transportation office is in the Whiteside County Senior Center, 1207 W. 9th St., Sterling.

Handicap-accessible buses run from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday; extended hours are available.

The service is available to anyone. Residents can use transportation to get to the hospital, places of employment, doctors’ offices, dialysis centers, the senior center, grocery stores, banks, job interviews, beauty salons, barbershops, to visit friends – “anywhere you need to go,” officials say.

For ages 60 and older, the suggested donation is $1 one-way in town.

The fee for ages 6 to 59 is $2, and for 5 and younger 50 cents, for a one-way ride in town.

Riders are asked to call 24 hours in advance for local rides.

Out-of-town transportation also is available from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday; cost is 25 cents a mile, and requests must be made at least 2 days in advance.

With prior approval, Medicaid is accepted to pay for transportation to medical appointments.

To schedule a ride or for more information, call 815-625-7433 or 888-622-9230. The TTY number is 815-626-7707.

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