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County board to vote on taking transit in-house

MORRIS – The Grundy County Transit System could be in for some changes in the future, including reduced service, but a few things have to happen in between.

On Tuesday, the Grundy County Board will be voting on whether or not to bring the public transportation service in house.

Currently, administration is handled and overseen by the county – the county board’s highway committee oversees the service – but operations such as dispatching and driving is handled by Illinois Central school bus company.

“We’re required to go out for bid every five years, because we receive federal money,” transit director Sherey Zerbian said. “We received no bids.”

She said Illinois Central has decided it wanted to focus on school busing.

Zerbian said one of the challenges is that the system is relatively new and therefore smaller than similar programs that most other downstate counties run.

The GTS isn’t big enough yet for outside companies to want to run it. Last year, the program gave 16,000 rides. Zerbian said this year there may be more.

“We have growth every year,” she said. “We will at some point, I believe, be the size needed for another organization to come in.”

No county money goes toward the system, Zerbian said. It is run through state and federal grants, although riders pay to use the system. Rider fares are required because many of the grants use a local match.

If the county board votes to bring the system completely into the county, there would be an initial phase of getting up to speed and up to the necessary staffing levels.

“We really don’t know what’s going to happen,” Zerbian said. “There will be a couple of weeks getting everybody in place. I just want people to know there may be some temporary changes in the service level and we may not be able to provide every ride we have in the past.”

Zerbian said she’s reached out to the Morris Hospital transportation service the veterans assistance commission and the Morris Public Works Department to see if they can handle an increased number of passengers while GTS gets back up to speed.

“A lot of people rely on us for their transportation needs,” she said.

Zerbian stressed that it would be a temporary situation.

At 9 a.m. Monday, Grundy County Highway Department will hold a hearing for residents and interested parties.

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