MCPT elects to terminate contract with Durham School Services
MACOMB (WGEM) - Changes are being made to McDonough County Public Transportation (MCPT) that officials said could help alleviate a driver shortage.
The county’s public transportation system is terminating their contract with Durham School Services. Initially, the county partnered with Durham nearly two years ago when CARES Act funding covered the cost of the third party service.
By terminating the contract, Transit Director Miranda Lambert said MCPT will have better oversight of new drivers.
“One of the things by bringing this in-house will allow us to have better oversight of the day-to-day when it comes to transit operations, our onboarding, hiring and training as well,” Lambert said.
Lambert said the the cost of the five year Durham contract increase by 5% annually. In the current contract, Durham School Services system total is $2.2 million. She said this could add an additional $500,000 to MCPT’s operational budget.
“Taking this in-house, we will be able to have better control of how we allocate our funding into personnel,” Lambert said. “We were able to cover those expenses, but now that our CARES funding is coming to the end of its term, we needed to look at other solutions and being able to run operations within our annual budget.”
Currently, Durham assists new-hires with attaining their CDL. When the contract comes to an end on Dec. 31, MCPT will need to find new ways to train employees.
Lambert noted that MCPT hasn’t yet decided what they will do to help drivers get their CDL, but are exploring options around the area.
Due to the recent driver shortage, MCPT has had to take certain routes offline. This also forced other buses to shift accordingly. For frequent riders like Lea Walker, a reliable transportation service is critical.
“I don’t have any other form of transportation,” Walker said. “I use the bus for my grocery shopping, to get my meds.”
While Walker said she doesn’t ride the bus every single day, she said she knows of other Macomb residents who also rely heavily on public transportation.
“Recently I was here at the City Center waiting with a woman who had an appointment at the hospital, so if the bus is late that’s bad,” Walker said.
Lambert said there are prospective employees “in the pipeline.” She added that Durham is still working hard to fill driver vacancies. Currently, MCPT is looking to fill five positions.
Because the Macomb School District has a separate contract with Durham, MCPT’s contract termination with the service will not effect the school district.
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