By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer
More than 450 passengers used the Portales Area Transit System in May, according to city officials.
“We’re really pleased with how things are going,” Portales City Manager Debi Lee said. “Everything is positive. Some of the seniors found out that they could get rides through our senior program for free.”
Under the control of the city of Portales for 2 1/2 months, PAT provides to citizens 60 years old for free within a five-mile radius of Portales. For riders under 60, there is a 75-cent fee.
The city has also added service on Mondays after several complaints during a January meeting.
Twila Hurley of the Portales Area Transit system said they stopped giving rides on Mondays in January 2004 due to rising gasoline prices and budget constraints. PAT was under the direction of the Community Services Center at the time.
James Good, director of the senior citizens center, and Charlene Carter, administrative assistant, took over PAT responsibilities as of March 27. They have been working under the direction of Lee and Public Works Director Tom Howell.
Portales Senior Citizens Center officials were already giving free rides to people over the age of 60.
The PAT program is funded by state, federal and city funding. Linda Trujillo of the New Mexico Department of Transportation said a total of $159,500 was provided for PAT last year.
Carter said NMDOT representatives have been helpful with the transition of the program. Carter receives calls from people looking for a ride and handles scheduling.
“It’s going great,” Carter said. “We are in full force and we’ve been busy.”
Carter said the latest reports show 103 users per week of the PAT system.
As for the future of PAT, Lee said she would like to see a marketing plan to publicize the system, sponsorship, benches around Portales for the vans to make a stop and a route for people who make routine trips.
What: Portales Area Transit
When: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
Where: Within five-mile radius of Portales
Fee: 60 and over: free; Under 60: 75¢ per ride; 10 rides for $5.
Information or to schedule a ride: 356-8741
PAT employees prefer a 24-hour notice, if possible, if someone needs a ride.