Shortly after the New Year the Central Area Rural Transit System (CARTS) got some good news. For the third consecutive year, CARTS received notice of a Congressional earmark appropriation.
The FY'02 Transportation Appropriations bill signed by President Bush on New Year's Eve includes $500,000 for the innovative Kenai Peninsula transit program. Prior to the CARTS program, the Federal Transit Administration Region 10 in Seattle had never provided direct funding to a non-profit in the Pacific Northwest. According to Kristin Lambert, executive director of CARTS, the new money means a measure of security for the local program, "We're not going to have to worry for a long time whether we are going to keep getting federal support for operating the system. But, it does not guarantee that the community funding is going to be continued, and we do need to continue to find match money for all the federal funds that we receive. However, it's a wonderful sign of support, and I really can't thank Senator Stevens enough for sponsoring this earmark for CARTS," said Lambert.
In its first year of operation CARTS has delivered over 20,000 rides for area residents and according to Jennifer Beckman, executive assistant for CARTS, projections for 2002 is for more than 35,000 trips. "Primarily people are going back and forth from work, but we do have a lot of riders that are going to school, working mothers dropping kids off at day care, kindergartners who could not otherwise be in school, high schoolers going to extra curricular activities, seniors going to doctors appointments, shopping and a lot of personal things. It's really heart warming, we've provided rides for some frail seniors that have been isolated without transportation for years," said Beckman. The CARTS program has drawn state and national recognition; other Alaskan communities are now looking at CARTS as a model for mobility solutions. "We have more than 1,000 individuals signed up for the program, and more coming in every day," said Lambert. For a ride or more information about CARTS call 262-8900.
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