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March 8, 2014

Transit service strapped by financial burdens

ODOT to investigate situation

CHICKASHA —

Chickasha resident Carol Lambrose refuses to use the Washita Valley Transit System (WVTS). 

"It sucks," she said. 

A few years ago, Lambrose said she called the service to get on their schedule in order to have a ride to her job. Her shift was changed and she was forced to cancel the appointment. The next day, Lambrose said she called to get on the schedule again, but was told the slate was full. 

"I tried it again the day after that and was told they were full again," she said. Lambrose hasn't used the system since and said she won't until there are some reforms. She is one of many residents who want to see the hours of the transit system expanded and a route system put in place throughout the county. 

Currently, the system operates by appointment only. A passenger calls a pickup service to their house. That person will be sole passenger on one of the system's 14 currently accessible vehicles. 

Lambrose said she has seen as many as three people have to wait on a ride for up to 45 minutes while a transit automobile runs a single passenger to their house instead of filling the vehicle.

Multiple stops would effectively service the patrons of the WVTS, according to Lambrose. 

"I'd want it to run 6 a.m. to midnight and have stops at 1st, 4th, 8th, 12th, 17th, the hospital and 29th," she said. 

The decision to change the system rests solely with WVTS. Oklahoma Department of Transportation Spokesperson Cole Hackett said ODOT works to make sure rural systems comply with federal guidelines, but can only suggest changes in management. He said grouping transit passengers together is typically a more effective use of resources. 

"We encourage all service providers to group their trips and riders as much as possible for best use of their time and funding, even if their service is on demand only," Hackett said. "Typically providers ask for at least 24-hour notice in order to best schedule pick-ups and drop off's of multiple passengers on each trip. It is unusual for trips to only have a single rider, so our transit division is planning on reviewing trip and ridership numbers for the area transit providers."    

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