County looks to save on its cab fees

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Are taxicab rates for transporting Medicaid recipients in the county reasonable?

That is what some county officials are asking about the cost of driving local low-income families to nonemergency medical and social service appointments.

The Department of Job and Family Services is trying to find a better deal on taxicab service by bidding the services out. Bids are being accepted for service within the villages of Chesapeake and Proctorville and from the Chesapeake and Proctorville/ Rome Township area to Huntington, W.Va. Bids will be accepted on per-mile costs.

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Two companies currently serve the county; both have recently raised their rates in efforts to offset ever-increasing gas prices, said Buddy Martin, director of DJFS. He said Sureway, based in Ironton, now charges the county an extra $1.50 per trip for each Medicaid recipient it transports. The other cab company, Wolf’s Village Cab, has raised its rates by about $1 a mile, according to Martin.

Both companies have been contracted by the county for the past two years to provide service. Now, as their contracts expire, the DJFS is looking for other options.

“We thought they (the rates) were unreasonable, so we just are going to put it up for bid to see what we get,” Martin said. “We don’t really know if they are excessive or not, but they seem that way. We just want to get the best rates we can.”

He said the rural routes are the most troubling because cabs can rack up the miles, which means the costs can be rather high, especially when traveling between Ironton and the furthermost regions of the county such as Scottown. In-town routes and those in close proximity to the Ironton — trips mostly handled by Sureway, according to Martin — are not as expensive.

The DJFS has a driver who transports clients, but Martin said he is on the road constantly and has logged more than 220,000 miles in the past two years.

“We’re always going to serve our clients no matter what, but we are just looking to save the county a little bit of money,” Martin said.

Bids for cab service will be accepted through 10 a.m. June 27. Bids will be opened at the county commissioner’s meeting June 29.