Hop on the bus: Walworth County gets $3.8 million transportation grant
Gov. Jim Doyle announced Thursday 26 counties throughout Wisconsin would be awarded funding supplemented by the state and federal government.
VIP Services in Walworth County received the third largest grant. It was given $347,809 over two years to replace seven buses, which is nearly all of its fleet used for daily transports, Executive Director Cynthia Simonsen said.
Simonsen said most of the buses in operation have been driven more than 120,000 miles. They’ll be retired but kept in storage in case of emergency.
VIP Services provides community living and vocational skills to people with disabilities and offers transportation to those who need it. Simonsen said the buses are shared with the Walworth County Department of Human Services.
The grant pays for 80 percent of the buses and VIP Services and the county will share the remaining cost.
“Walworth County always scores high when they rank the proposals,” Simonsen said.
The non-profit organization has used the biennial grant seven or eight times in the last 17 years, she added.
The state still has to request bids to purchase the vehicles, so they likely won’t be delivered until next year. VIP Services received a bus last week that it applied for in 2008, Simonsen said.
Rock County was given $164,940 to replace five buses, which are managed by the county’s council on aging.
Council Director Joyce Lubben described the grant as “routine” and said it won’t impact the elderly transit services.
In 2008, Mercy Health System ended its program providing patients with transportation to medical appointments, and Van Galder Bus earlier this year discontinued its rides to county residents working at Kandu.
Lubben said they continue to discuss methods to add more of those services.
“We are making progress and we haven’t dropped the issue,” she said. “Progress is just slow.”