Southern Iowa Trolley (SIT) announced on July 18 that they will no longer be offering their transportation service line from Osceola to Murray and back. The lack of drivers along with the increasing costs of fuel were the driving factors for the decision. While the route was available to anyone who needed it, it was primarily used by the parents for their children who needed transportation to and from Murray Community Schools from Osceola. SIT will still operate its service line within Osceola.
SIT transit director Leesa Lester said that at this time last year, she had five, full-time drivers; this year between driver retirements and health issues, she only has one full time with CDL/passenger endorsement, one full time with chauffeurs’ endorsement, and one part time CDL/passenger endorsement driver for Osceola who is limited on working hours. An additional part time CDL driver is only available from mid-April through October.
As SIT is open to the general public - SIT is not contracted with the school to provide transportation for students - a driver has to remain available to transport others who may need it, such as rides to the hospital, work, or the store. Despite the increasing costs of fuel and parts, SIT has not increased their fares since 2020.
Need for drivers
Those who are interested in driving for Southern Iowa Trolley can apply via their website. Applicants may also call Lester with any questions regarding employment, or to have an application mailed to them. Applicants are required to pass a rigorous background check, drug screening, physical, and more. All drivers must adhere to local and state laws.
Lester said applicants should have a class C CDL with passenger endorsement to drive the 16 passenger vehicles. She ordered three smaller vehicles in March 2021, but due to the pandemic the vehicles have yet to be finished and delivered. She has no estimated delivery date.
Southern Iowa Trolley has been a regional transit system since 1979, replacing a previous transit system of several agencies with their own fleets of buses and vans - one transported head-start children, another elderly, and yet another transported handicapped individuals. Since July of 2012, Southern Iowa Trolley has operated as a free-standing agency under Iowa Code, Chapter 28E. Their mission statement is:
“Southern Iowa Trolley, through its employees, is dedicated to serving the general public’s mobility needs by providing affordable, safe, secure, timely and clean transportation for all our customers, including persons with disabilities and to provide a professional working atmosphere for all Southern Iowa Trolley personnel.”