All but one question of the result of merging the City of Platteville’s Shared Ride taxi and the UW–Platteville shuttle can be answered.
The question that cannot be answered, though, is a big one: Will the bus service expand or not?
Half of the merged service becomes official Thursday when Running, Inc., of Viroqua takes over the taxi from Top Hat Inc., the previous operator, which decided not to bid for the 2015 contract. The Platteville Common Council unanimously approved the 2015 contract, which could be extended to the end of 2017 by future vote, Dec. 22.
Director of Public Works Howard Crofoot said the changeover “should be a seamless transition,” with the same office, vehicles, drivers and telephone number. Sunday service will be expanded beginning Jan. 4.
Stratton Buses of Cuba City, the operator of the present UW–Platteville shuttle, was the only bidder for the bus service. That contract isn’t due for approval until the end of UWP’s spring semester.
The one question that remains in the merger, however, is whether or not bus service will be expanded, or whether the city will keep the same service and use the increased federal and state funding to reduce its own funding.
Taxi service hours will be Sunday through Wednesday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 3 a.m. The proposed shuttle service would run weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. during the UW–Platteville academic year, with some routes on Saturdays from 1 to 9 p.m., and some routes Fridays and Saturdays from 10 p.m. to 3:15 a.m. During the summer, the shuttle would run weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The shuttle service would expand to cover the entire city all year, instead of from the UW–Platteville campus to various points in the city during the academic year.
At-large Ald. Mike Denn believes UW–Platteville should contribute more to the service. The service is funded by $240,000 in student fees, but the university is only contributing $150,000, Denn said.
“We’re doing a service for them,” he said. “I think the university should be paying us for this service.”
“We were looking at the money they currently provide to the contractor to basically match what they were providing,” said Crofoot. “The city contracts for bus service; the city contracts for taxi service. … In the state’s eyes this is one system being provided by the City of Platteville.”
“If we don’t give it, they don’t get it,” said Denn. “We’re providing a service; they need to pay for a service.”
The meeting also contained a difference of opinion over what the council voted for in its vote to merge the two services Sept. 23.
Denn maintained the council voted for a one-year contract. At-large Ald. Amy Seeboth-Wilson said the contract is “ongoing unless canceled by the city.”