Help defray transportation costs for students, seniors
While Haywood County doesn't have a transit system with regular routes for those who can't drive or down't own vehicles, there is an alternative.
Haywood Public Transit, a Division of Mountain Projects, Inc., operates a transportation system where those in need of a ride can made special arrangements to get to doctor appointments, the grocery store, or even to after school work program.
Years ago, when North Carolina Department of Transportation offered to partially fund a public transit system in each rural county, no one particularly wanted to learn the massive policies of public transit and operate a system which could serve the community, explained Susan Anderson, the program director for Haywood Public Transit.
"Think of the general public as those needing transportation to a job because there is only one vehicle in the family or a student trying to get to classes at Haywood Community College," she said. "There are also seniors and persons with disabilities wanting to remain independent by using public transit since they don’t drive their own vehicle. Mountain Projects stepped up to take the challenge again of serving the community in Haywood County."
Haywood Public Transit provides not only daily services related to jobs and education, there are passengers using the services to get to non-emergency medical appointments, drug stores and grocery stores. These types of travel allow many individuals to remain in their homes without depending on someone else to take them places.
As the cost of medicine and food increases, too many are struggling to decide how to continue to meet their budgetary needs, Anderson said. Transportation fares are only $2 per boarding trip but that $4 cost can be a strain on some budgets. For many, this ride is their connection to the outside world.
"Services to medical care and grocery stores are critical," said Anderson. "Students desperately need support to remain in school."
That why sponsors are being sought to defray costs of these trips. Those who would be willing to be a sponsor for a 'Secret Ride' can make a donation to Haywood Public Transit, Mountain Projects, Inc., 2251 Old Balsam Road, Waynesville, NC, 28786. The donation can be for a specific person or in memory of a loved one.
"Any donation would be appreciated," Anderson said, "and $4 covers one destination trip and return trip home within Haywood County. In most cases, elderly will need an average of eight trips per month. That’s only $32 per month but it is a great deal of money to some. Students may need up to twenty trips per month. Many students need a ride to class or to continue their efforts to an off-site training location."
For more information, contact Anderson, transportation director at 828-565-0362.