Officials seeking paratransit provider

Public transportation officials in North Idaho are working with the Kootenai County Board of Commissioners to revive a recently discontinued bus service primarily used by seniors and people with disabilities.

However, commissioners emphasized in a Thursday news conference that there will be no interruption in medical transportation services within the urban areas of the county. They thanked Kootenai Health, which operates Kootenai Medical Center, for stepping up to provide that portion of the services that were recently discontinued.

Riders who need transportation to medical services in the county can call (208) 666-2100 and a wheelchair-accessible vehicle will be dispatched to their home.

Commissioners are still working with public transportation officials to find another provider who can restore the bus service for the elderly and disabled in Kootenai County. Riders who wish to qualify for this complimentary paratransit in the future should call (208) 666-2930 to request an application. Generally, applicants must be non-ambulatory to qualify, but other factors can be considered, a county news release said.

The county hopes to find a new provider for the paratransit services within the urbanized areas of Kootenai County by Feb. 1, commissioners said.

The routes previously were operated under the Kootenai Area Transit System and the North Idaho Community Express, which served urban and rural areas of Kootenai County and rural Shoshone and Bonner counties.

Clifton Warren, mobility manager for Community Transportation Association of Idaho, a nonprofit that works to provide public mobility, said the loss of a federal grant contributed to NICE and KATS discontinuing the service. He is working with the county and other providers to help restore both the urban and rural services formerly provided by NICE and KATS.

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