LakeTran…Do we need a $17.5 million headquarters?…updated 7/3/21

LFC Comments by Brian Massie, LFC President

This is a follow-up to our original article written on June 24, 2021. We attended the LakeTran Board meeting on June 28th and expressed our concern about the inflated project costs.

This is a rather long video, however Mr. Ben Capelle, CEO of Laketran, does provide the details on how the numbers changed from $10 million to $17.5. It appears that the original estimate provided by C.T. Consultants was too low. [We have left a voicemail message at C.T. Consultants, but have yet to hear from them.]

The Board was not inclined to approve the request from the architect R.L. Bowen for an extra $250,000 in fees because of the project costs ballooning to $17.5 million. [5 voted no, 2 voted yes] LFC concurs with the Board members’ decision.

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In 2019, an increase in the Lake County sales tax was passed to help LakeTran’s Dial-A-Ride program.

https://laketran.com/election-2019-laketran-seeking-10-year-0-25-percent-sales-tax/

Excerpts from the article:

“Laketran is asking voters in the Nov. 5 General Election to approve a 0.25 percent sales tax for 10 years.”

“Officials have said the issue would allow Laketran to meet the growing demand for accessible transportation for Lake County seniors, people with disabilities and veterans. It would also improve job access to important manufacturing corridors like Tyler Boulevard and Heisley Road — where there are more than 300 employers and 7,500 jobs.”

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From the June 28th Board Meeting, we learned that the need for the Dial-A-Ride services has fallen off dramatically because of the Covid pandemic, but is expected to increase by the end of 2021. It is expected to be back to normal levels in a couple of years. This is important because the increasing need for the Dial-A-Ride services is why the new headquarters project was started, and the main reason behind the sales tax increase.

In our opinion, the fear and panic created in the community because of the pandemic’s impact on our seniors makes us wonder if the Dial-A-Ride program will ever come back to previous levels. Is it prudent to spend $17.5 million on a program that may or may not return to previous ridership levels?

From LFC’s viewpoint, we would rather see the proof that the Dial-A-Ride ridership does return to previous levels. Right now, we see that possibility as a “definite maybe”, which is one step higher than a “maybe maybe”.

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Update July 3, 2021

We received a notice from a concerned citizen about a LakeTran federal grant request that indicated that they have approximately 3,500 riders weekly using their Dial-A-Ride services. We asked Mr. Capelle if that is an accurate number?

He provided the following response:

Yes that is a good number.  In April we averaged 594 rides per day of service.  With Dial-a-Ride operating Monday-Saturday we averaged 3,566.7 rides per week.  For reference we were doing over 5,000 rides a week pre-pandemic and we expect ridership to continue an upward trend over summer and into fall getting closer to that pre-pandemic number.

I have attached our most recent Dial-a-Ride KPI report that is included with the June Board packet for reference.  Our May and June numbers are up as Dial-a-Ride continues to return to normal.  The largest category of trips that is still recovering is folks going to Senior Centers (which were not even open in April).  If you have any other questions let me know.  Thanks!

Ben Capelle | CEO

Direct (440) 350-1001

Here is the KPR report that Mr. Capelle mentioned:

A big “thumbs up” for Mr. Capelle’s responsiveness and transparency.

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Categories: Lake, Lake Tran, Local News, Uncategorized

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