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updated: 11/10/2011 6:04 PM

Palatine Township halts transportation program until 2012

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Seniors and disabled adults who rely on Palatine Township to get them to medical appointments outside township borders must find another way to get around -- at least through the end of the year.

Palatine Township officials have suspended the Township Riders Initiative Program, or TRIP, because its funding recently ran dry.

"It's a bad problem in that we ran out of money, but it's also good that so many people know about the program and take advantage of it," Palatine Township Administrator Paul Pioch said.

TRIP will continue to operate in Elk Grove, Hanover, Schaumburg and Wheeling townships, according to Wheeling Township Director of Finance and Administration Josephine Stellato, who helps coordinate the six-year-old program.

The transportation program is the product of an annual $250,000 state grant administered through Pace. The money is generally evenly distributed, though townships with fewer riders have supplemented others in the past.

Of the five townships that participate, Palatine Township residents have consistently utilized TRIP the most, which Pioch attributes to the absence of a hospital within its boundaries. Commonly requested destinations include Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge and Veterans Affairs centers in Maywood and North Chicago.

In 2010, Palatine gave 1,543 rides and that number is up about 30 percent this year. That's more than four times as many as Hanover Township, where Community Relations Coordinator Tom Kuttenberg said fewer riders take advantage of the program because rides can cost as much as $20 from the westernmost participating township.

Pioch said there's about a six-week delay between rides and when Pace provides its monthly report, so there was a risk the township would go over budget without immediately knowing.

"We didn't want to spend more than our allocation," he said.

Palatine Township officials expect to reinstitute TRIP in January. Pace spokesman Patrick Wilmot said that while a decision to award the grant ultimately is made at the state level, he's confident the program will continue into its seventh year.

In the meantime, seniors and disabled adults can still utilize transportation services within Palatine Township, as well as weekly trips to Northwest Community Hospital.

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