JOPLIN, Mo. — A shortage of drivers forces city leaders in Joplin to cut back on public transportation. Starting November 28th, the Sunshine Lamp Trolley service will be suspended until further notice. Riders will be referred to the MAPS (Metro Area Public-transit System) service which provides curb-to-curb bus service on a pre-scheduled basis to residents of the Joplin metropolitan area. MAPS has been in operation since 1997 and operated independently of the Trolley until 2007, when the new route method of transportation was introduced to Joplin.
“We understand the significance of public transportation and will continue to provide transportation for our community through the City’s MAPS system. The MAPS program has served many citizens for 25 years and will continue to be helpful to those needing transportation assistance,” said Joplin City Manager, Nick Edwards.
Unlike the Trolley system, residents schedule rides to be picked up from, and taken to any destination within the MAPS operating boundaries. MAPS service is currently available in Joplin, Carterville, Webb City, Duenweg, Oronogo, and Duquesne. Rides are available Monday through Friday, from 6:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Another transportation option is the City’s Cab Coupon Program, which offers a reduced fare for qualifying residents.
“It is unfortunate that we have to reduce this service. We are working to increase our applicant pool by working with area schools and training facilities that teach these skills to individuals. Although the stringent qualifications, as well as the low unemployment rate, are a challenge, we are focusing our efforts to allow us to renew the Trolley Service when conditions are more favorable,” said Edwards.
The Department of Transportation requires public transportation drivers to hold a Commercial Driver’s License, requiring the applicant to pass both skills and knowledge testing of higher levels than non-commercial drivers. The City has experienced a limited number of applicants for positions in the public transportation division.