The partial government shutdown is hitting closer to home as it impacts thousands of Missourian who rely on OATS Transit to get them to work, medical appointments, the grocery store, the pharmacy and many other places they need to go.
OATS Transit applies for and receives federal grants to transport individuals with disabilities, senior citizens, Veterans, low-income individuals and the rural general public. Most routes are subsidized partially by federal grants, but also include multiple other funding partners. As long as the federal government is shutdown, OATS Transit and other rural providers are not receiving their grant funding. Staff have already been working to reduce operating costs. Company officials will be forced to make deeper cuts if the shutdown goes into February.
The federal shutdown is affecting OATS Transit employees, riders, local businesses who rely on OATS to bring customers to them and agencies who contract with the company for service. Reductions this month included service in St. Joseph, Sedalia, Warrensburg and some other Missouri cities. In one instance, Mosaic Life Care stepped forward and agreed to pay for St. Joseph service until the end of the shutdown so that seniors could continue getting to medical appointments. “We are so thankful to partners like Mosaic who come forward to help in times like this,” said Dorothy Yeager, OATS Transit Executive Director. “Service cuts are never easy when you are talking about reducing someone’s access to their community and limiting their independence,” added Yeager. OATS Transit has been in business for more than 47 years, company officials say they will weather the storm just like everyone else. “We are grateful that we have the support of so many partners,” said Yeager.