APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV)-A contract to renew a cost-sharing agreement that provides transportation for the elderly is up for a vote at a meeting for the Fox Cities Transit Commission.

That group will vote on the matter on Tuesday afternoon. The program is called Northern Winnebago Dial-A-Ride. Valley Transit in Appleton is responsible for the operation of the program which provide services throughout the Fox Valley. Local municipalities pay for the program based on the proportion of people from their municipality that utilize the service.

“If dial a ride wasn’t around, I’d have to hire a cab, but that wouldn’t be too often because I wouldn’t be able to afford it,” say Northern Winnebago Dial-A-Ride user Robert Buck.

Right now, Fox Valley Cab in Appleton provides the service. Eligible users, those who are 60 or older or disabled, only pay a $3.50 fare for a ride.

“Trying to get around via a cab ride is very expensive and trying to wait for the bus in weather like this isn’t healthy for them,” says Jerry Ericksen who is a driver for Fox Valley Cab.

Ericksen says one of the best parts of his job is the connection he’s able to make with passengers. He says he considers many of his passengers his friends.

If officials did vote to renew the contract, they would switch their service provider from Fox Valley Cab to Running Inc. which is headquartered in Viroqua.

“We’re switching providers because there are certain eligibility requirements and the new provider qualifies under the federal funding requirements, there are a lot of restrictions so that’s why we are switching,” says George Dearborn who is the Chair for the Fox Valley Transit Commission.

City officials say the expectation is for the contract to get renewed so the municipalities can still provide the dial-a-ride service. They tell Local Five News that ridership is down since the pandemic began but has slowly began to pick up again in 2021.