WTA, Circle of Care team up on van service


The Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) and Point Roberts non-profit Circle of Care have teamed up to provide two round trips to Bellingham and two to Blaine per week on a one-year trial basis. The agreement would be in lieu of regular WTA service and would be reviewed at the end of six and twelve months.

The service is scheduled to start in April.

Under the agreement, WTA has ‘surplused’ a 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan, a seven-passenger van currently in the WTA fleet and transferred the title to Circle of Care. In addition, WTA has agreed to pay Circle of Care a total of $45,000, paid in advance quarterly installments. The funds would be used for operation and maintenance support of the van, including “to pay for such items as fuel, maintenance, insurance, registration, advertising, wages to drivers, and any other such operating costs,” according to the draft agreement drawn up for the WTA board of commissioners.

In turn, Circle of Care will be responsible for hiring and training drivers at a wage rate it deems “fair and reasonable.” The agreement also allows the group to pay for a scheduler to manage trips. WTA will be hosting a voicemail service on a dedicated Circle of Carephone line.

According to the staff report prepared for WTA commissioners, the $45,000 operating subsidy was based on the planning assumption that Circle of Care will be providing two Bellingham and two Blaine roundtrips from Point Roberts each week. The agreement calls upon Circle of Care to provide an accounting of all costs and expenses on a quarterly basis as well as keep a log of all rides, pickup and destination points, ride miles for each passenger and vehicle miles traveled.

The six-month check will be during October 2024. Discussion on whether to continue the pilot project beyond the initial 12 months will begin in February 2025.

Circle of Care president Galen Wood said it is important for the community to understand that it is a community agreement with WTA and that Circle of Care is just the administrator for the first year.


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