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Local

Seniors, disabled must pay $1 a ride

Ridership is up, so are expenses, director says

DIXON – A rise in ridership has led the Lee and Ogle Transportation System to implement fares for seniors and the disabled, who now ride for free, its director said.

The new rates take effect April 1.

Although seniors and the disabled now ride for free, a donation of $2 for a one-way trip in town and $4 for a round trip in town is suggested.

That rate is charged riders ages 6 to 59, and that won’t change. The fare for kids 5 and younger, which also is staying the same, is $1 for a one-way trip in town.

“As a young system, we do the best we can with the money we’re given to prolong their fares,” said Jaime Blatti, LOTS’ executive director. “There comes a time when the state and federal funding are not enough to cover expenses.”

Since 2010, ridership has increased 39 percent, and the system now provides 140,000 one-way rides a year, she said.

She attributes the increase to more community awareness about the service, and to a partnership with agencies such as Sinnissippi Centers and KSB Hospital.

Federal and state funding of LOTS has remained the same, but the system’s expenses have risen along with its riders, she said.

Neither Lee nor Ogle County provides funds for the LOTS, Blatti said.

The LOTS advisory board voted unanimously in November to implement a rate for seniors and the disabled. The board will vote on the $1 rate Friday.

LOTS is one of the few remaining transportation systems that do not charge a fee for seniors and the disabled, she said.

Although Whiteside County Senior Center does not charge seniors for rides, it suggests a donation of $1 from those 60 and older for a one-way trip in the rider’s hometown, according to the senior center’s website.

To schedule a ride

Lee-Ogle Transportation System provides rides from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Extended hours are available with the director's approval.

Call 888-239-9228 or 815-288-2117 to schedule a ride. The hearing impaired may call 815-288-9236.

Passengers are encouraged to call LOTS as soon as they are aware of their need for a ride.

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