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Rural Missouri transit services affected by government shutdown

The partial government shutdown is impacting thousands of Missourians who rely on OATS Transit to get them to work, medical appointments, the pharmacy and other places.

“OATS Transit operates transit services in 87 counties in Missouri. We rely on several funding sources, of one is federal government funding,” said Mid-Missouri Regional Director Dion Knipp. “Overall approximately 35 percent of OATS funding does come from the federal government.”

OATS Transit receives federal grants to operate, and most of its routes are partially subsidized by federal grants. According to a press release, as long as the partial government shutdown continues, OATS Transit will not receive funding. The staff has already been working to cut operating costs and will have to make deeper cuts if the shutdown continues into February.

“Service cuts are never easy when you are talking about reducing someone’s access to their community and limiting their independence,” said Dorothy Yeager, OATS Transit executive director.

Reductions in January included services in Sedalia, Warrensburg and some other Missouri cities. The company is looking at what it needs to do should the shutdown linger.

“We may reduce the hours in the day that we operate. Say we operate 8 to 9 hours a day, what it would look like if we operated 6 or 7,” Knipp said. “If we have 7 or 8 vehicles providing service throughout the day, we may have to cut back a vehicle.”

Any service reductions OATS has to make will be temporary and all services will be reinstated when the government shutdown ends.

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