Ocean County To Use $1.7 Million Grant To Support Its Ocean Ride In 2013

Ocean County will use a $1.7 million grant from NJ Transit to support its Ocean Ride public transportation system in 2013. “While the 2013 allocation reflects an 11 percent cut over 2012 we will continue to provide the best possible transportation services for our vulnerable and elderly residents” said Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little, who serves as liaison to Ocean Ride.

The bulk of the funding for the service comes from Ocean County taxpayers, Little noted, representing about 50 percent of the overall transportation budget for the County.

“As many people know the annual allocation from NJ Transit comes from the state’s casino revenue program where funding levels are determined by a formula tied to the number of seniors living in the County,” Little said.

Little said despite cutbacks in state funding, Ocean Ride continues to be a viable and beneficial transportation program in Ocean County helping thousands of citizens access doctor appointments, employment opportunities and a host of other areas.

“During 2011 Ocean Ride provided 349,463 passenger trips,” Little said. “This was accomplished by our team of drivers who logged 1.3 million miles of travel with a fleet of 77 transit vehicles, 99 percent of which are equipped with specialized wheelchair lifts to serve anyone who may use a mobility device.”

Little noted that the county’s transportation system is now in its 35th year of operation. He said the system had been expanded and modernized during three decades of funding investment.

“However, since 2009, the Department has faced significant funding cuts through the casino program which have forced management staff to re-assess service levels,” he said. “Ocean Ride has worked hard to preserve core functions while scaling back expenses.”

Little said that starting in 2010, Ocean Ride modified and reduced service levels on the bus route system to keep pace with reduced state casino revenue funding. Through route consolidation 17 routes have now been reduced to 12 routes. Ocean Ride was able to reduce through attrition the number of drivers from 77 to 67.

Ocean Ride’s other core services include Reserve-A-Ride program, veterans service to clinics as well as the Disabled Employment Transportation program allowing disabled adults to access local employment.

“Ocean Ride is committed to maintain the core transportation services for our seniors, our veterans, our disabled and citizens even during these difficult economic times,” Little said.

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