The Town of Castle Rock is ready to get out of the taxi business.
Town council on April 16 approved a proposal from its transportation department to hand over the reins of its taxi service to Douglas County. Merging the services will make it easier for Castle Rock residents to take advantage of the free program, said Bob Watts, Castle Rock transportation planning manager.
The town and county provide free cab rides to residents who qualify for the respective programs.
The county’s program, funded through a federal grant, limits riders to those who need transportation to and from work, Watts said. The county estimates that about 80 percent of its transportation requests originate in Castle Rock.
The town’s program, funded through its annual budget, is available to the elderly, the disabled, or anyone without access to a car. Qualified riders can get transportation for work, medical appointments and grocery shopping.
Merging the two programs will create a single point of contact for residents who use the program, extend the hours of the Castle Rock program to match those of the county’s and reduce the amount of staff time the town spends on administering the program, Watts said.
Many of the riders who use the taxi service use both programs and, on several occasions, confusion arises for users of the dual services, Watts said.
“Right now some riders get a ride with us (in the morning) and forget (by the end of the day),” Watts said. “They think they made a reservation with the county. It would simplify the process for them and we would have fewer missed rides.”
The missed rides result in part because the county’s hours are longer than the town’s, he said. By merging the two programs, the hours would be universal, the county would manage both programs and those who qualify through the town’s service would still be able to get rides for doctor’s appointments and grocery shopping, Watts said.
In March, the county provided about 100 rides, 80 of which were to Castle Rock residents, and the town extended about 180 rides to qualified users, Watts said.
“Our ridership is going down because I believe some of our riders are going to Douglas County,” Watts said.
The cab rides are provided by Yellow Cab and South Suburban Taxi, which receive reimbursement through the voucher programs, he said. The town will contribute its remaining 2013 budget, about $19,000, to the joint program, and by November will review the cost savings for a 2014 budget recommendation. Watts was instructed to prepare an intergovernmental agreement between the county and town for administration of the program.
For more information about the Castle Rock taxi service, visit the town’s website at www.crgov.com and follow the link from the home page under town government to town services, transportation services and local transportation.