The Transportation Coalition of the United Way of Southeast Missouri held a picnic May 23 at Capaha Park in Cape Girardeau to announce updates being made to public transportation.
Elizabeth Shelton, director of United Way, noted that a lack of public transportation made it hard for people to get to work or to the Adult Learning Center or to medical appointments. “We realized there was a huge need. We did some research and the coalition has met a couple of times to look at data and talk about next steps. Some of the things you hear about tonight are some of our next steps in our action plan. We would all like everything to happen overnight. It’s not.
“When you talk to people in the community, and they ask, ‘What’s going on in transportation?,’ let them know that this coalition is working really hard on improving resources and listening to the needs of the community and addressing those needs.”
Susan Redford, operations manager for CTA (Cape Girardeau County Transit Authority) said this meeting is a follow-up to the town meeting held last fall at Shawnee Park.
“We have some exciting news to share,” she added. “We are going to have five brand new bus shelters installed. One will be at Cape Meadows Apartments. I think that stop is actually the most-used stop we have. We’ll have one on the corner of North Silver Springs and Boxwood.
“We’ll have one at Shawnee Park Center. We’ll also have one at the Health Department and across the street from the Police Station. We’re hoping to serve a lot of our community with those stops. And it will make it easier for everyone to stay out of the weather. We’re trying to increase bus ridership.”
CTA also has new vans ordered.
“We already received two wheelchair-accessible mini-vans. They are rear-loading, so they can hold two wheelchairs and up to three ambulatory riders. Two more should be here by the end of June or the beginning of July.
“We’ve also ordered five non-wheelchair mini-vans. I get to go pick one up tomorrow, and hopefully the other four will be here in the next 60 to 90 days.
“We are still short some drivers, so I just want everyone to remember if you know anyone who needs a job, send them our way.”
A large map of Cape Girardeau was posted, and attendees were invited to stick pins in the map to indicate places where additional bus stops may be needed. “We’re trying to find out better locations to serve you, our community,” Redford said.
Kelly Watson, accounting manager for CTA, discussed some of the programs CTA offers.
Senior coupons are available to residents 60 or older. They can buy up to 40 coupons per month at $4 each, and they are good for a one-way trip anywhere in Cape County.
“Just to let you know what a bargain that is, if you live out in the county like I do, it’s $17 for a trip. But if you’re a senior, you can get it for $4.”
Individuals with developmental disabilities can purchase coupons for $2. They can be used to go just about anywhere in Cape County.
Aging Matters has a special available for people 60 and older who have a disability that makes it impossible for them to drive.
Those trips are free, but they have limited availability. These trips are for life needs, such as going to grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, medical appointments or senior centers.
Anyone working at Gilster-Mary Lee in Perryville or Procter & Gamble can make use of CTA’s ride-to-work program. Vans will take them to and from work. “It’s a very affordable option, especially with the price of gas today, and you can sleep going to and from work,” Watson said.
CTA and United way are continuing to search for additional sources of funding to help individuals with transportation needs.