After charges of abuse of its Dial-A-Ride program, the City Council on Monday is to consider hiring a transportation consultant to find an alternative method of service. The city also wants to expand the program to include people too intoxicated to drive and teens stranded without a ride.
Paying a taxi meter rate, which varies depending on traffic and wait times, the city spends between $140,000-$150,000 a year on the program for elderly and disabled city residents, said city Finance Director Bill Thomas. In a report to the council for its upcoming meeting, he recommends hiring a transportation planner for $5,000 “to provide assistance in studying alternatives to the current method of providing this service.”
The Dial-A-Ride Program provides transportation for such outings as weekly food shopping trips to local stores and visits to doctors in cities from West Los Angeles to Thousand Oaks. Riders pay $1 per trip and the cab company bills the city for the rest, using voter-approved county tax measures to cover the costs.
The city requested proposals from transportation agencies to provide Dial-A-Ride services not only for the elderly and disabled but for people too intoxicated to drive and teens stranded without a ride, the report said. The only response, from the current provider, Malibu Yellow Cab, proposed fixed costs as high as $40 for a one-way trip to a medical facility (compared to the current $75-$125 round-trip cost). “All other trips within Malibu are based on meter rate, which is what they also propose for the in-city program, the drunken driver program, and the Teen-Safe ride program,” Thomas says.
“Upon review of this proposal, it appears that very little cost saving to the existing program will be realized,” Thomas reports. He recommends rejecting the proposal and hiring the consultant, while continuing with the existing program.
Other alternatives the city may consider are getting the county to chip in for rides originating outside city limits and purchasing shuttle buses to be operated by outside companies or city employees.
“We don’t have information to make an informed decision,” Thomas said in a telephone interview last week. “We are trying to put together a program that will last a while, that will provide the most service at the least cost.”
Thomas’s report recommends hiring Patti Post and Associates, who is working with the Council of Governments, which is developing a “smart shuttle” study.