Changes to Cove’s HOP service
By MALACHI MUNCY
On Tuesday, the Hill Country Transit Authority held a public hearing at the Copperas Cove Police Department community room to inform the public of changes to the HOP that will take effect on Sept. 1.
In addition to closing Killen routes 7, 21 and 30 for low ridership, the Americans with Disabilities Act complimentary paratransit service is being modified to meet stricter Federal Transit Authority standards.
There were three community members at the hearing, voicing concerns and trying to better understand how the changes will affect Copperas Cove residents who use the service to get to medical appointments.
“I work at Killeen Kidney Center and I have a lot of patients from Copperas Cove that use this service,” Said Teresa Osburn. “This may affect eight to 10 of our clients especially on Saturday. They’ve (HOP) have been picking up folks outside their normal hours. I understand they can’t do that anymore and I have faith that the community will figure it out. Necessity is the mother of innovation.”
The HOP started fixed route public transit in may of 2000 in Killeen. According to section 223 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, public entities that operate non-commuter fixed route transportation services also provide complementary paratransit service for individuals unable to utilize the fixed route system.
“Instead of operating our services for ADA to the FTA standard of three quarters of a mile. We’ve been operating it throughout the whole area,” Said Robert Ator, HCTA Director of Urban Operations. “That’s not efficient or cost effective and it doesn’t align with our real directive from the FTA, to provide fixed route service. We’ve gotten to where we focus more on ADA service than the fixed route. On ADA routes we average 2.9 riders per hour. Our goal for fixed route service is 10 riders per hour.”
This was the third of five public hearings. Other hearings are being held in Killeen, Belton, Harker Heights and Temple.
“It’s not just people with disabilities that this affects. It’s everybody,” said Ator. “There are people who use these routes that are closing but there aren’t enough.”
One of the closing routes, Route 7, is the only public transit service to the Texas A&M Central Texas Campus in Killeen.
“Texas A&M Central Texas did two studies in conjunction with the Central Texas Council of Governments that said we need more geographic coverage and more frequency,” said Ator. “We know this. We’ve just been doing the best we can with what funding we have.”
For route maps and hours visit: www.takethehop.com