Although the Sunshine Transit van service has become a popular service in Talkeetna, the coalition that overlooks the service marks today (Monday) as the first in what might be a series of financial cuts.
The last run of the day has been cut from the service due to dwindling grant funding. The decision happened at the Sunshine Coalition’s meeting last week. Executive Director of Sunshine Clinic, Sharon Montanigno says, although there are times that the van serves over 20 riders a day, it has been hard to convince funding entities of the necessity of the service. Van drivers agree that there are times in the day that the 8-passenger van is completely full.
The Sunshine Community Health Center received stimulus funds to dedicate to improving health access, which helped start the van service 2 days a week. The service expanded to include Monday through Friday. In September, the hours of operation expanded. However, at least 2 grant applications have been turned down in the past several months.
The Sunshine Coalition, made up of representatives from the Sunshine Community Health Clinic, the Upper Susitna Seniors, the PTSA and local interested individuals, is now striving to go under the umbrella of the Sunshine Community Health Clinic as an official non-profit, because it appears necessary to be able to obtain the grants to keep the service alive. Montanigno says that the amount needed to keep the service running is about $4000 per month, or close to $50,000 per year.
The service’s last run of the day is now at 4 p.m. headed southbound out of Talkeetna to the highway and returns from the highway at 4:45 p.m. The last run that started at 5:30 has been cut from the schedule.