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McDonough County Public Transportation set to receive $1.2 million in CARES Act funds

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MCDONOUGH CO BUS SOT

MACOMB (WGEM) -- Just last month, McDonough County Public Transportation was facing a serious problem.

A possible 26% increase in the cost to provide free transportation for county residents would cost the service an additional $300,000 to $400,000, forcing them to consider cutting back on routes.

But officials said thanks to a new federal allotment of $1,256,742 in CARES Act funds, they're in a much better place.

It's good news for people like Brianna Cork who moved to Macomb six months ago.

"I have to be able to travel with my two girls right here, getting to doctors appointments, to the grocery store, which is where we're headed now," Cork said. "It's very important,"

Her friend said he uses it to get to and from work.

"Back up in Chicago you have to use two to four dollars to get on CTA, get on PACE buses, but now since you out here you don't have to do that. You can just ride the bus for free," he said.

McDonough County Public Transportation transit director Miranda Lambert said the funds will go towards vehicle supplies like fuel and tires and cover a portion of their contractual services.

"Having COVID-19 relief money is extremely important towards organizations, such as public transportation because that does alleviate some stress as we've seen low ridership during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic," Lambert said.

Lambert said they have until June 2023 to use the funds.

"Our contract with Durham will be a five-year annual renewable contract," Lambert said. "That does provide us to work comfortably within the first two years while having time to decide what transitions we're going to make within the next couple of years."

Lambert said they've received their first allotment of $1.5 million last year and have used a portion of it for vehicle parts and contractual services this year.

She said they're still waiting on the second allotment of $1,256,742 that will apply to the next two years.

Charity Bell

Multimedia Journalist at WGEM

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