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Council awards taxi contract

Waupaca plans hearing on fare increases

By Angie Landsverk

Brown Cab Services, Inc. will continue to provide the city of Waupaca’s shared ride taxi service.

The Waupaca Common Council voted 9-0 earlier this month to award a two-year contract to the company with three, one-year renewals.

Ald. Lori Chesnut was absent.

The taxi service is partially subsidized by state and federal transit funds.

Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation (WisDOT) requires the city seek bids for the service at least every five years.

The city sought proposals in September and received two.

The other proposal was from F.D.S. Enterprises, of Hudson.

City Administrator Henry Veleker said a panel evaluated the proposals, as required by the WisDOT, and recommending awarding the contract to Brown Cab.

The two proposals were scored on professional competence, capacity, experience and price, with Brown Cab receiving the highest score.

The cost of the service is based on 17,185 service hours.

It will increase 14 percent, from $27.60 an hour to $31.47 an hour.

“Similar increases are being seen for the other systems going out for bid this year,” Veleker noted in a memo to Mayor Brian Smith and the common council.

At one time, federal and state transit funds covered 65 percent of the deficit to run the service, he said.

“The deficit is the difference between the annual service cost minus fare revenue. In 2018, the funding covered 56 percent of the deficit and it is projected to be 54 percent for 2019,” Veleker wrote in the memo.

He said the staff’s goal is to bring the service’s local share requirement in to the amount budgeted.

In 2019, that is $10,000.

Karl Schulte, of Brown Cab, told the council 2018 is coming in according to the goals.

“Ridership will be higher than 2017 and 2016,” he said.

Schulte said 2014 was the record year for ridership.

Revenue is up this year, he said.

A fare increase went into effect last Jan. 1, and Schulte projects the 2018 levy budgeted for the service will not be needed.

However, he expects 2019 to have challenges.

“State aid will go down again,” Schulte said. “We expect to recommend a fare hike and to do different promotional things to help.”

Veleker said a public hearing will be held in January regarding fare increases.

Without taking such steps, the local share is projected to be $46,000 when $10,000 was budgeted for it.

Implementing a fare increase in January is expected to bring in more than $32,000 in revenue.

The city also wants to discuss a cost increase with the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King to bring in more than $13,500 in 2019.

Additional advertising to increase ridership is also planned for next year, as well as paid advertising on the taxi vehicles.

Schulte said the $31.47 per hour fixed cost for the next two years is the correct number.

It will allow Brown Cab to increase the starting wage for drivers.

“One of the last things they want to do is to increase fares, but I think it is reasonable, considering the cost of the other service in the city,” the mayor said. “We should be able to come in with no city share. That depends on the grant and number of riders and if the vets home wants to agree to pay a little more for the service.”

Smith said the goal is for the grant and ridership to cover the cost of the service.

“I feel it’s a reasonable request,” he said of a fare increase in 2019.

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