HUNTLEY – Numerous elderly Rutland Township residents in Sun City Huntley can still rely on public transportation for grocery store trips and other appointments thanks to a swift, last-minute decision from Huntley officials.
Huntley will use the remaining $6,000 from an annual bus service agreement with Grafton Township to pay for a voucher program with Route 47 Taxi Transportation, Inc.
The temporary program begins Sunday, and the taxi company will provide curb-to-curb service for Huntley residents in Rutland and Hampshire Townships upon 24-hour notice from riders.
"The village has made a consistent effort and funding commitment to provide funds for these services since 2007," said Village Manager Dave Johnson. "We believe it was the right thing to do to use the funds returned from Grafton for the services the funds were intended to provide."
The temporary fix comes after many Rutland residents in Sun City were set to lose Grafton's bus service on Saturday. Grafton officials vowed to cutoff the service, after they failed to convince Rutland officials to help pay for servicing their residents.
Grafton also had to return the remaining funds Huntley typically sends for servicing Rutland and Hampshire residents. The remaining funds are expected to fuel the temporary, taxi program into February, village officials said.
Huntley's late entrance into an issue that had so far divided two neighboring townships for months came during the end of a Village Board meeting late last week. Trustee Nick Hanson made a plea that it was wrong to leave Huntley residents without accessible transportation.
On Wednesday, Hanson said the deal with Route 47 Taxi Transportation is a temporary move that buys village officials time to try and negotiate a longer term deal with Grafton.
He said he would like to see the village commit the additional money Grafton needs to keep the township's bus service running in Rutland.
"It's a band-aid right now," Hanson said. "We are trying to keep it rolling and in the interim, maybe we can make an agreement with Grafton. I don't want to see the service end."
Grafton Supervisor Jim Kearns stressed that unless someone approaches the township about a long-term financial deal, officials will provide a bus service only for Grafton residents. He, however, was happy to see Huntley's involvement in the issue.
"I'm ecstatic that the major and Village Board did step up and take care of those people in Rutland," Kearns said. "Even though it's temporary, at least they are not left without any service."
Under the taxi agreement with Huntley, a one-way trip will cost Rutland and Hampshire residents $2. Service is limited to the village's boundaries. Residents will be able to receive rides Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
The temporary program applies to seniors 55 and older. They must register with the village before their initial ride. To register, residents should contact the village at (847) 515-5261 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.