Pike Area Transit to expand

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The purchase of a new minivan may be all that stands between the Pike Area Transit System and the ability to make out-of-county trips once again.

During the most recent Troy City Council meeting, members unanimously approved two resolutions allowing the City of Troy to apply for federal assistance and allocate local match money to the Pike Area Transit System, a part of the Rural Area Transit System 5311 Program.

The cities of Troy and Brundidge, as well as the Pike County Commission, have committed $154,170 in matching funds for operations and $29,711 for administration for the program. Within the budget is a provision for the purchase of a minivan for a total of $36,506.

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The primary goal of PATS is to provide high-quality, cost-effective transportation services for Pike County residents, and Director of Transportation Donta Fraizer said the recent approval in funding would substantially help increase the services currently provided.

“We started out-of-area transportation several years back,” Fraizer said. “I think we tried it in 2009 until 2010 or 2011, but our startup vehicles were getting old. We had to cancel that service so we could continue to make ourselves available to our customers in Pike County, but we are in the process of purchasing new vehicles … The mini-van they discussed in the city council meeting will be a great help in getting that service started again.”

Fraizer said a mini-van would also be more cost effective than running the busses used for in-county routes.

“The van will save on gas, and it wouldn’t take a whole bus, which holds up to 15 people out of the county,” Fraizer said. “The busses will be able to stay in Pike County and the van will be able to go and take people out of county if needed. We’ve been trying to figure out how we could get this service back and get it started again. The van worked well for other cities, and that’ll be the sole purpose of this van.”

Fraizer said the transit system has grown tremendously since its inception in 2007.

“We’re looking forward to getting local GPS systems in the vehicles we use daily,” Fraizer said. “It’ll let us know where are transits are in real time. It’ll help our dispatcher when customers call in saying they’re waiting on a ride, she’ll be able to know exactly where that bus is. There are 29 rural transportation systems and 10 of them use this technology, so this is something we’re hopefully going to be able to get.”

Fraizer said keeping drivers and staff members up-to-date with their training was also something the organization plans to continue.

“The state provides a great deal of money, but without the local match money it would be kind of impossible for us to function,” Fraizer said. “That’s why the City of Troy, City of Brundidge and Pike County Commission do this. I think they do a fantastic job working together as one group to make sure this county has a public transportation system. I don’t think that without their partnership with each other we would be able to have the transit system.”

Troy Mayor Jason Reeves said that since the beginning of the program in 2007, Troy had become the lead agency for the state with the 5311 Program and had worked to expand the Pike County program.

“We’ve added five additional busses since the program started,” Reeves said. “This program has grown and is huge.”

Fraizer also said he was thankful for the hard work and dedication of his employees.

“This system could not run without the employees here,” Fraizer said. “That starts with our operators, our drivers and our office personnel. They have to deal with answering the phones and making sure maintenance is done to the vehicles. I am so grateful as director of transportation to have a staff like I do. Without them, it would be impossible.”

Transportation, however, is not free. Fares for trips between 0 and 9 miles are $2, between 10-20 miles are $3, between 21-30 miles are $4 and trips over 30 miles are negotiated through the planner. Additional stops may be made for $1 extra.

Anyone looking to set up a pick-up is asked to call 334-674-2451 24 hours ahead of the pick-up time. Hours of scheduling are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day.