Mini-Bus contract renewed as assessment continues

Posted 8/5/99

For something called “the best rural county transportation service in the nation,” the Washington …

By Mary Zielinski (free-lance)

For something called “the best rural county …

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Mini-Bus contract renewed as assessment continues


For something called “the best rural county transportation service in the nation,” the Washington …

By Mary Zielinski (free-lance)

For something called “the best rural county transportation service in the nation,” the Washington County Mini-Bus has hit roadblocks for nearly a year from a transportation planner who claims the Mini-bus is providing illegal charter services.

Mary Rump, transportation planner with the East Central Iowa Council of Governments (ECICOG) wrote in a July 6 letter to Jim Frier, chairman of the Mini-Bus board of directors, that ECICOG was “reconsidering its intent to reauthorize a service contract and lease agreement with the Washington County Mini-Bus for fiscal year 2000.”

As a result, the board members met with ECICOG representative last week to try and clarifying the so-called “illegal” issue.

Besides the Mini-Bus board, the meeting was attended by Leonard Tindal, the local Mini-Bus director, Rump, Douglas Elliott, ECICOG executive director and Rump’s supervisor and Kalona City Administrator Doug Morgan.

Tindal told The News that the county service was called the “best in the country” by an IDOT official.

In her July 6 letter, Rump claims she has been concerned about the uses of the Mini-Bus for at least a year, dating to August 10, 1998 when she says, she “..provided (Leonard Tindal) with a letter stating my concerns and clarifying the terms of charter and financial service.”

She notes she restated those concerns January 22 and, at that time in a letter, “..informed Mr. Tindal that financial assistance would be withheld until the issues were rectified. I have also met with members of the Mini-Bus Board of Directors on three occasions. Given these efforts, however, the inappropriate services and inaccurate reports have continued. Most recently, I have learned that Mini-Bus has resumed its practice of leasing federally-funded equipment to local individuals for charter use.”

At issue is ECICOG’s interpretation of the federal regulations and at this point, the interpretation is such that charter services cannot be performed by a federally funded transit service.

Leonard Tindal indicated that he believes the Mini-Bus has followed federal regulations, including the charter service one.

In essence, an individual can contact the Mini Bus and make a reservation, but not a group. Tindal asked what is the difference between an individual requesting a ride to a grocery store or ten individuals selecting one destination.

Rump replied that as far as she is concerned an individual and a group are essentially the same, that the regulations apply to both equally.

The Mini-Bus is actually a function of the Iowa Department of Transportation and Attorney Doug Tindal, a board member, asked ECICOG and the Mini-Bus board to devise a list of questions and take to the IDOT and let them determine the correct interpretation.

He also had asked if any of Rump’s concerns had been reviewed by an attorney, and was told they had not.

Elliott agreed to the IDOT review, but said he first wanted to have the proposal reviewed by the ECICOG board.

In the meantime, the Mini-Bus transportation contract was extended through September 30.

The Mini-Bus provides service for Orchard Hill, the Washington County Developmental Center, the Kalona By-Ways Tours, and the Washington Y. Judging from Rump’s July letter, these agreements will continue.


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