GPT's total operating costs are $108,000 a year. The service brings in an estimated $22,000-$24,000 of the net operating cost. A matching grant covers 50 percent, the state, 15 percent and GPT has to come up with the other 35 percent, or about $26,000, Bourbon County Senior Citizens Coordinator Jacqueline Sellers said.
The service is funded by a grant, an investment, the United Way and Bourbon County and Bourbon County. However, the investment has run out and the county has undergone budget cuts, so GPT has to come up with a little more than $9,000 to meet the grant for 2012-13 and stay afloat, Sellers said.
GPT, which is part of Bourbon County Senior Citizens, has two vans and a cutaway -- a larger bus able to accommodate wheelchairs, which take 700 riders a month around Fort Scott and three miles outside town on paved roads.
For many, it is their sole mode of transportation. Some 26 percent of people use GPT to go shopping, 19 percent for getting to and from medical or dental appointments, 11.5 percent for transportation to work and 23 percent for other reasons such as visiting family, hair appointments or car breakdowns.
"They stay steadily busy throughout the day. We start at 7:30 (a.m.) and go until 5 p.m.," Sellers said. Tuesday and Thursday are by appointment. Cost is $3 a ride or customers may purchase a bus pass for $30 entitling them to 12 rides. Good for six months, the pass provides two free rides.
Martin said he has received calls about how important the service is to the community. But he wants to make clear that GPT is not and has not been funded by the city.
"Everybody thinks the city just needs to jump in, but the city's never been responsible for it. They're confused since it's General Transportation that the city funded this and the city never has," Martin said. "I think the city is a vital part of trying to evaluate options of how we can try to keep this vital transportation (service) for our community."
He said a meeting is scheduled in January with himself, the GPT board and Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce. Martin said this will be a fact-finding gathering to help determine what options are available. Martin said meetings with people the service impacts will also be held to see if a solution can be reached.
The transportation service employs five people, including two drivers, two dispatchers and Sellers. An increase costs for vehicle insurance, new regulations, advertising, fuel, maintenance and mandatory training for drivers and managers has also taken a bite out of funds.
"I feel very optimistic that when we get our facts and get our options, we'll do everything we can to keep it going," but Martin said, he's not offering any guarantees.