ELKHART — As of 2 p.m. Aug. 15, Yellow Cab of Elkhart County shut down operations of the Heart City Rider and Goshen Transit Service program, the company announced.
The closure is “due to lack of funds, inability to provide commercial fleet insurance for fifteen vehicles, and noncooperation from Michiana Area Council of Governments,” according to a press release from Kerry Clear, the owner of the company. Yellow Cab will continue to have two or three vehicles serving the county but cab fares will not be subsidized by MACOG, Clear said.
“I’d like to apologize to the citizens of Elkhart and Goshen for leaving them stranded,” Clear said. “Hundreds of people depend on this service every single day to get them to work, to the doctor, to the grocery store, and it’s really unfortunate that their welfare was not taken seriously enough to look at the financial situation.”
Yellow Cab began operating the program on Jan. 25. Ever since, the company had been discussing the high operating costs with MACOG and inquired about increasing the pay scale for those who use Heart City Rider and Goshen Transit Service.
“We’ve pointed out time and time again that we’re losing $20,000 a month, and they chose not to do anything about that,” Clear said.
According to the press release, Yellow Cab of Elkhart County “provided copious amounts of documentation to prove that we cannot operate with the current pay scale per rider” and informed MACOG on April 18 that the program may have to shut down due to “inability to pay (their) commercial fleet insurance.”
MACOG issued a temporary price increase while they asked for the public’s opinion on a more permanent increase, a process that was to take 90 days, according to the press release. “The process was never initiated and the modest price increase was rescinded on June 30, 2013 with no resolution to the original problem of the high cost of running the program,” Clear said in the press release. “(MACOG) has given Yellow Cab of Elkhart County no other alternative but to stop servicing Heart City Rider and Goshen Transit Services program until such time as a resolution can be agreed upon by both parties.”
A phone call to MACOG was not immediately returned.
On Friday, Aug. 9, Yellow Cab of Elkhart County announced that Yellow Cab services would be temporarily closed for a companywide picnic on Sunday, Aug. 11, but Goshen Transit Service and Heart City Rider patrons would not be affected.