Seniors seek more mass transport in Hancock Co.
By Cassandra Favre
Dec 10, 2013, 21:23
"There's a need for public transportation," Julie Burke said. "Nobody wants to be stuck at home."
On Tuesday, Burke and Gary Geoffrey of Bay St. Louis' Ole Blue Eyes Transportation spoke to residents at Notre De La Mer assisted living facility about public transportation in the city.
Currently, Ole Blue Eyes has one shuttle bus service to about 37 stops in Waveland and Bay St. Louis, according to Burke.
Ole Blue Eyes also offers taxi and limo services.
"We have two shuttle runs a day," Burke said. "It's getting hard to afford it if we don't get the riders.
"We are looking for ideas from you guys to better our service."
Residents were concerned with the distance from a designated stop to a doctor's office that may not be a stop.
Earline Mangano, a six year resident of Notre Dame, owns her car and is still able to drive, but said that one day she will get to the point when she can't.
"Right now if you ride the bus," Mangano said, "if they drop you off at a designated stop, you might have to walk a couple of blocks to get to your doctor's office. If you get dropped off at 10 a.m. it might be 3 p.m. before you get picked up again.
"We need more businesses and doctors' offices to allow for stops and more people to ride the bus so that we can have two buses."
"Some of the doctors and stops you want are not designated stops," Burke said. "We have to receive a letter from that business saying that we can pick up and drop off there."
"The cost is so high to run the bus," Geoffrey said. "But the bus is something we have to have, this is about fulfilling a need, not running a business. We want to do all we can for the senior citizens, disabled and veterans of Bay St. Louis and Waveland."
Burke said the business is looking into ways to make the shuttle bus service a non-profit and apply for grants.
“One of our biggest problems is the ridership," Geoffrey said. "We want to get the word out about our services.
"We want to add at least two more buses so that wait times are shorter."
"I rely on friends for rides and I'm running low," Notre Dame resident Jacque Menzelli said. "I remember the days of the trolley running people to downtown and the casinos, it would be nice if it came back.
"There are a lot of people out there stranded without rides."
"Ole Blue Eyes has helped everyone so much," Notre Dame site property manager Sandy Rhodes said. "They have gone above the call of duty.
"I knew a case where a patron didn't have the money to ride the bus and the driver paid the fare out of his own pocket.
Geoffrey and Burke urged Notre Dame residents to "get on the phone and call local businesses and doctors' offices and tell them to become designated stops."