County Seeks $600,000 for Bus Service

Memos for County Board action are quite informative.

The one below is about a $600,000 grant that McHenry County is seeking for its MCRide Dial-a-Ride Transit Program.

I see no indication that a cost-benefit analysis has been performed to see if Uber and/of Lyft would cost less.

A resolution will be considered by the Finance Committee, meeting at the Administrative Building, on Thursday, June 9th.

Background and Discussion: 

This application is to continue providing federal funding to reimburse the County for eligible operating costs.  The application requests $600,000 in grant monies to help fund MCRide for the next year.

The MCRide service area as of March of 2015.

The MCRide service area as of March of 2015.

MCRide is a demand response transit service provided through a contractual arrangement between the County and Pace.

  • Crystal Lake,
  • McHenry
  • Woodstock
  • Lakewood
  • Huntley
  • Harvard
  • Marengo
  • Johnsburg
  • Ringwood

have an IGA [Intergovernmental Agreement] with the County to pay for their share of operating costs.

The County has an IGA with McHenry Township to coordinate trip registration with the McHenry Township Senior Express service.

Pace subsidizes the MCRide program at 49.7%.

The County was awarded $488,825 in Job Access Reverse Commute and $299,333 in New Freedom federal grants in 2011 and has used this funding to offset the costs of the service.

The County was awarded $600,000 ($300,000 per year for two years) in Section 5310 federal grants in 2014 and it is expected that these funds will be expended by the end of June, 2016.

Section 5310 programs help meet the transportation needs of seniors 60 years and older and individuals with disabilities.  This application is for $600,000 for federal fiscal year 2015.

This amount is equal to 50% of the estimated operational cost of services on MCRide for individuals with disabilities and for individuals 60 and older (See Table 1).

In County Fiscal Year 2015,

  • 43,405 of the 105,121 total trips provided on MCRide were taken by individuals with at least one disability:
  • 21,031 trips were taken by individuals 60 years and older; and,
  • 5,459 were taken by individuals over 60 years with a disability.

Table 1: Select MCRide Statistics for County Fiscal Year 2015

Total Operational Costs of MCRide in 2015* $1,859,080
Fares Collected $161,955
Total Operating Deficit for MCRide in 2015 $1,692,616
Total Pace Subsidy for MCRide in 2015 $792,994
Total MCRide Trips in 2015 105,121
Total Trips for People with a Disability 43,405
Total Trips for Seniors over Age 60 21,031
Total Trips for Seniors with a Disability 5,459
Total Trips for General Public 35,226
Average Cost Per Trip in 2015 $17.69

*McHenry County Cost = In 2015, the County spent $903,222 from the RTA Sales Tax funds on MCRide.

Of this, $839,000 was reimbursed to the County by Federal Section 5310 & County Senior Services grants, and by partner municipalities and townships.

Impact on Budget (Revenue; Expenses, Fringe Benefits):  Operating costs are already budgeted for in County Fiscal Year 2016 and programmed in the 2016-2020 Transportation Program.  This grant, if awarded,would reimburse the County after payments are made to Pace.

Impact on Other County Departments or Outside Agencies:  A substantial amount of the grant reimbursements will help offset costs to the partner municipalities as well.


County Seeks $600,000 for Bus Service — 11 Comments

  1. One of the drawbacks of living in an exurban county is the open space and longer distances to employment and shopping.

    We don’t live in a crowded city where mass transit is efficient.

    My suggestion, either move to a crowded urban environment or make other arrangements.

    Uber is very cost effective and convenient.

  2. Lakewood’s first year contracted with MC Dial-a-Ride (before I was on the board) resulted in a cost of $8700 to Lakewood residents.

    For this, an average of 4-5 people used the service in seven months of twelve. In the winter months there was zero usage.

    Per my questioning of the village board and staff, prior to introducing this program in Lakewood, there was no request for such service by the community nor was there any reason to believe that there was any need or desire for such service.

    Doing quick math, it’s pretty easy to see that our village could have paid for Uber or private taxi service for these 4-5 individuals (not that we should) and saved the taxpayers of Lakewood thousands of dollars.

    (That is, of course, if we are to assume that responsible spending of tax dollars had anything to do with the decision to get involved in this program to begin with)

    Add to this, the fact that this program is not means-tested (it is not based on a need for service, or subsidy, such as having a disability or low-income) – and many more questions begin to arise…

    Incidently, renewal of this program was, recently voted on by the Lakewood Village Board.

    All of these points, and more, were brought out in detail. Despite the admitted waste of tax dollars and overwhelming lack of resident interest in this program, I was the sole vote against renewing it.

    President Smith praised the program and every other trustee, voted in favor of continuing this dreaded program.


  3. @Bald Eagle: City mass transit is not efficient.

    Metra, CTA and Pace all run with operating deficits and cannot support long term capital plans.

  4. Cab coupons, Taxi voucher program, mileage reimbursement program for volunteer drivers

    rather than spend million$ on bus purchases/maintenance, garages/parking properties, fuel, insurance, drivers, etc..

  5. When are these pople going to get a clue that grant money is never an answer to anything?

    They think they have hit the motherlode everytime the word grant comes up.

    Grant is NOT the be-all end-all answer to all your spending problems.

  6. Bald Eagle is correct. This type of cut is a no brainer, grant or not.

  7. But, Cindy, if local governments do not addict themselves to grants, how can the federal/ state government exert its control?

    When Jack Franks visited local government units doling out your money from the Ryan Capital plan, he actually made local officials believe he was responsible for them getting the money!!

    That mental attitude continues to get him votes to this day.

    What is the extent of grants in Illinois?

    There are about THIRTY THOUSAND grants being tracked.

    We used to have federal ‘earmarks’ which were replaced with ‘grants’.

    Earmarks bought votes – grants buy federal and state control.

    How many times have you heard or read the refrain:

    “it is free money” or ” it is low-hanging fruit”?

    Contrary to what elected officials believe , they are not not the

    ‘sharpest knives in the drawer’.

    For the most part they are people craving for attention to inflate their ego or they were put up for election by a special interest group (unions, associations, or a business).

    Most elected officials do what full time Managers TELL them to do! Do you really think the County and city Board agendas are developed by the elected Chairman or President? Not possible – voters do not elect the ‘sharpest knives in the drawer’. Want to stop the grant influence? Fire the City / County / Village / Town / Park District / managers. How much money do taxpayers pay to fund the job of ‘grant writing’? Yes! Colleges have classes on ‘grant writing’. Next, how much money do taxpayers pay to fund the tracking of grants?

  8. Dose of truth this morning:

    “Contrary to what elected officials believe , they are not not the

    ‘sharpest knives in the drawer’.

    For the most part they are people craving for attention to inflate their ego or they were put up for election by a special interest group (unions, associations, or a business). Most elected officials do what full time Managers TELL them to do!”

  9. Paul? You must have listened to John B, Wells recently.

    He said as much about all government.

    You cleaned it up very much, in my opinion, but the sentiments are identical to mine.

    I believe others know this as ‘shadow government’.

  10. Where do we get a cost break out and who (if anyone) that measures to determine best option to provide service between public and private?

    Is it a fully burdened expense list (depreciation of vehicle, Office space expense, all overhead expenses such as phone/internet, insurance, etc.)?

    Is there consideration of duplicate effort of township and other government service providers?

    Thank you for the article

  11. Paul,

    Before you support axing Mc-Dial-a-Ride, try to get good answers to the following questions:

    1. Will transitioning to Uber/private taxi increase utilization of the program? If so, how much?

    2. How will you be paying for the inevitable ADA lawsuit because provided a program/service that is not handicapped accessible? Could be hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.

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