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Joplin Officials Continue Work to Develop Regional Transit Plan

Transit still top of mind for officials at the City of Joplin. Following a labor shortage in 2022 forcing the closure of the Sunshine Lamp Trolley, officials began work to identify a replacement for the service which once provided weekday rides along three routes.

A service restart has been prevented until this point by the difficulty in keeping specially licensed commercial drivers in place. To make the positions more attractive to potential employees, a new pay scale has been established. The city is also committing to using smaller vehicles that do not require the comprehensive commercial driver’s license that the previous trolley buses required.

Officials are also looking for creative ways to improve MAPS service, which provides curb-to-curb transportation on a prescheduled basis.

Tony Robyn, assistant city manager, told Mass Transit magazine, “We have a certain clientele with the MAPS riders. This is an important service for them, and we recognize that. Our drivers and our dispatchers talk to these individuals every day or all the time. Drivers and dispatchers know what the issues are, and they can be flexible.”

Last year, Joplin was awarded a $400,000 grant by the FTA to form a regional, fixed-route transit service that would encompass the city of Joplin and beyond. Officials are continuing to develop that service but expect it to take another two years to put together.

Robyn said they want to look at how to expand regional service by bringing other communities into the transportation program. Additionally, they will need to conduct a study which will guide the formation of this new service, as well as identify gaps in existing service.

Dan Johnson, the director of public works for Joplin, recognizes the importance of MAPS service. In response, the city is working to create a new pay structure which will attract both drivers and dispatchers, and the city has added additional vans to help increase the number of people who can use the service.


Read the full Mass Transit article here.