LAKE CITY — The troubled Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority was hoping for input before it shut down its Lake City to Myrtle Beach bus route. But so few people turned out for the two public hearings held Feb. 26 that the agency has decided to hold another hearing.
Charles “Chuck” MacNeil, executive director of the authority, said no one turned out to the first meeting held at 3 p.m. in the Lake City Library’s new Community Room, and only one individual came to the second meeting held at 6 p.m.
The meetings were scheduled for community input before the authority decides whether to end the year old LakeTran route that services the Lake City residential communities and business districts, and the older Lake City to Myrtle Beach route that makes a round trip to the coastal city each week day.
The service to Myrtle Beach brings visitors, but is perhaps more utilized by resort and hospitality workers who commute from Florence County.
According to Don Strickland, transportation fixed route manager for PDRTA, the next public hearings on the route will be held in the Lake City Community Hospital’s education room March 18 at 3 and 6 p.m.
Meanwhile, Darlington County Council agreed to consider providing “some” funding to the financially troubled authority in next year’s county budget.
The decision made Monday does not commit the county to providing any funding, only considering it as council begins its budget process in the coming weeks.
The vote followed a presentation to council by MacNeil, who explained the agency’s financial plight and appealed for funding from the county. PDRTA is asking for about $53,000 from the county. It currently gets zero funding from Darlington County, one of six counties it serves.
MacNeil said that for a number of years the agency was able to use Medicaid money for transporting Medicaid patients for health care services as match money to access other federal and state funding sources to pay for its operations. Without matching local funds PDRTA cannot access the federal and state funding, MacNeil said.
He pointed to recent cutbacks in Darlington County and said other services have been or soon will be cut as well.
“It’s a horrendous issue,” he said.
The Hartsville Messenger contributed to this report.