The East Williamson County Collaborative organization voiced transportation concerns on behalf of their clients at a meeting with Capital Area Rural Transportation Services (CARTS) representatives Thursday, Nov. 21 at the Taylor ISD Literacy Center.
The meeting addressed several concerns regarding transportation issues that locals often experience in Taylor.
CARTS Call Center Manager Carol Zachary said the essential way that CARTS helps residents, is when they call to request a ride.
“All of our services are, if you call, we book your ride and the bus comes to you,” she said. “We won’t know if you don’t call. If something comes up and you need a trip to the emergency room or something, if you call us and we have the time available, we will pick them up, even the same day.”
Williamson County EMS Community Health Paramedicine Paramedic Amy Jarosek said her concern comes from dispatchers who might not understand that CARTS runs on an on-call basis.
“Does all of your dispatch people know?,” she asked. “Because our problems come in when they say, ‘they don’t have an appointment.’”
Zachary said that Taylor is a busy area for CARTS transportation and that not getting a ride might come from overbooking. In fact, she said Taylor is one of CARTS’ busiest areas.
“They’re all aware of [that issue],” she said. “Probably, there is never a same-day appointment available because it’s so busy.”
She also said that there is no set bus schedule for residents in Taylor and there is only one bus available for the entire city.
Another concern came from Head Start Family Advocate Angelica Robles, who said she often works with children up to three years old that have no rides.
They are considered too young ride school buses, and she said she receives calls about the children not making it to school.
“We tried using school buses, but they started telling us that it wasn’t safe for three year olds to be riding school buses because they needed seatbelts” Robles said. “So they took the buses away and now we don’t have any transportation.”
CARTS General Manager Dave Marsh said particularly important issues like that would have to be looked at on an in-depth basis. He also said he’d give another look at the rules to see what could be done about that issue.
Robles said 50% of the parents whose children attend Head Start don’t have transportation and have to walk with their children to take them to school or look for alternative transportations choices.
Other issues were discussed, such as senior transportation to medical appointments and emergencies.
Marsh said he’d like to have a specific line for medical issues.
“I’d like to have a medical hotline call center where you call this number if you’re a navigator and there would be navigators on each end,” he said.
Taylor City Councilman Mitch Drummond said he felt that underfunding was the main problem with transportation issues and that CARTS should call state representatives for more funding.
“It sounds to me like you’re way underfunded for the transportation issues that we have in this community,” he said. “I hear all these problems and you all are doing everything that you all can, but it’s not enough. We need to go back to the state and ask for more money. [I suggest] contacting state representatives.”
Marsh agreed that CARTS does not get a lot of funding in general and that additional funds would alleviate transportation woes.
For more information about CARTS, email Marsh at email@example.com.