A sluggish economy, high maintenance costs and redundant programs are behind a decision to discontinue the Fox Lake Senior Shuttle Service, village officials said.
Village Administrator Nancy Schuerr said village officials elected to end the 12-year-old shuttle van service in early August to save the village the $50,000 annual maintenance and staff costs.
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The program was designed by former Mayor Jim Pappas and enacted by former Mayor Nancy Koske to provide senior citizens with transportation to various destinations throughout the village. The village did not keep ridership figures for the program, which operated five days a week prior to its cancellation.
However, Schuerr said Grant Township provides a similar service three days a week, and other shuttle services are available in Fox Lake for seniors in need of local transportation.
"The van has reached a point where there is high mileage, costly repairs, and operating it is expensive," Schuerr said. "So, we reached a point where we needed to make a decision on what to do next."
The village initially operated the shuttle van program and paid for all the repairs, she said. PACE bus service was eventually hired by the village to run the program.
The cost for PACE eventually escalated as well, she said, forcing village officials to bring the program back in house. But, Schuerr said, the cost has continued to rise and after the economy took a downturn, the village looked to share services with neighboring communities to save money.
"Grant Township operates a bus service for all township residents three days a week," Schuerr said. "We assisted our seniors to get signed up for the township bus and other programs in the area to ensure they had a way around."
Grant Township Supervisor Kay Starostovic said the township will continue to provide the transportation service for township seniors.
The township operates three vehicles and is considering purchasing another one to assist seniors, officials said.
"People will need to call 24 hours ahead of time to get the bus to them, but that isn't a big deal," Starostovic said. "We visited all the senior buildings to let people know about the changes and, so far, it's been working out pretty well."
She said the township averaged about 180 senior rides a month prior to the end of the Fox Lake shuttle service. It's unclear at this point if ridership has increased recently, she added. Seniors in Fox Lake are also able to sign up for the Northwest Demonstration Project, a senior bus that serves the townships of Antioch, Grant, Avon and Lake Villa five days a week, Starostovic said.
For more information about the senior shuttles, she said to contact the township at (847) 740-2233 or check the township website at granttownshipcenter.org.