The LaPorte County Council is struggling with how to provide bus service for the elderly and infirm, now that the LaPorte County Council on Aging's severe funding issues have become an emergency. That's only a brief snapshot of a bigger picture.
Transportation is essential for people who either can't or shouldn't drive or who simply might not afford to own a vehicle.
The County Council is expected to decide on Monday how to approach the financial rescue for bus service for hundreds of elderly and disabled residents.
The county is being asked to pay $100,000 as a one-time contribution toward a takeover by Michiana Resources and Harmony House/Court Appointed Special Advocate. Both organizations expect they would be self-sufficient by the end of the year with the services now provided by the Council on Aging.
Kristine Harlow, director of the adult protective services division at the LaPorte County prosecutor's office, is going to bat for this service.
The money is a matter of life and death for clients who rely on mostly free rides for kidney dialysis and other medical procedures, Harlow said.
This problem needs to be solved right away.
The cost of ambulance calls if service stops would be greater than continuing to provide the service, Harlow said.
But there's a bigger opportunity here.
Instead of focusing just on the elderly and infirm for the long range, LaPorte and other Northwest Indiana counties should be looking at the bigger picture — how to create a truly regional bus service to transport people of all ages, with all levels of ability.
The region needs an efficient, effective bus service instead of the ragged patchwork it has now.