CHIPPEWA FALLS, WI (WEAU) - Taxis are busier than ever in Chippewa Falls and the city is getting more government funding to keep the wheels rolling, according to the city transit network.
The city expects 67,500 riders to take the Shared Ride program this year, beating out last year's record of 67,261.
"When it's hot out, folks want to use the program, so they don't have to walk in the heat. When it's cold out, that makes sense as well," city transit program assistant Cynthia Schmidt said.
The majority of riders are seniors, people with disabilities and students, she said.
The program, started in 1985, brings anyone within city limits to where ever they need to go in taxi vans for less than $3, but with record ridership and rising gas and insurance costs, staff was concerned on how much funding the federal government would provide.
"Expecting bad news, and it was good news and that trickles down to less local funding necessary," Schmidt said.
The government just announced an increase in federal funding this year, so the program is using about four percent less from city coffers, that will now go to other programs.
"The biggest benefit is Share Ride has the ability to get people that are disabled to live their lives freely," rider Barry Mlsna said.
"It's hard for me to walk any length of time especially in the heat. I love to walk but share ride saves a lot for me," rider Jane Loiselle said.
"I hope they continue and I hope (the government does) realize how important it is," Joane Knoble said.
The program is funded through state and federal grants, local taxes and fares, Schmidt said.