PATS director addresses Rotary Club
Published 3:00 am Thursday, August 13, 2015
About 200 people rely on the Pike Area Transit System (PATS) to get to their jobs, doctors’ appointments and other obligations every day.
Probably not a lot of people know that.
Even members of the Brundidge Rotary Club were surprised to learn what an impact PATS has on the lives of so many Pike Countians.
Donta Frazier, PATS director, was the program guest of Rotarian Harry Sanders at the Rotary Club’s Wednesday meeting and enlightened the Rotarians on the “blessing” that PATS is to so many people.
Frazier started as PATS director in 2007 when Pike County’s governing officials realized the need for a county-wide transportation system.
“When Hurricane Katrina hit, a lot of evacuees came to Pike County and we had no transportation system available for them,” Frazier said. “That’s when our elected officials in Troy, Brundidge and on the county commission realized we needed some kind of public transportation. I was working for the City of Troy, and Mayor Jimmy Lunsford called me in and asked if I would be in charge of starting a transportation system in Pike County.”
Frazier said he didn’t have a clue about starting a transportation system but said, “Let’s go. Let’s try.”
For three months, he traveled the state from Mobile to Huntsville in an effort to see how different public transit systems were operated and to determine which kind of system would be best for Pike County.
Frazier put together a plan for a public transportation system in Pike County. The plan received a grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) with the local match for the grant coming from the municipalities of Troy and Brundidge and the Pike County Commission.
“In 2008, PATS started operation with three vans, three drivers, a dispatcher and me,” Frazier said. “Today, we have nine vans, nine drivers, a dispatcher, an operations manager and me. Six of the nine vans run every day. The other three, we keep for backup.”
Frazier said PATS’ mode of operation is 24-demand response.
“Those who need transportation must call the day before, 24 hours, and provide us with specified information,” he said. “They must call between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. After 3 p.m. the schedule for the next day is set up.”
The charges for one-way transportation are $2 for up to nine miles, $3 for 10 to 20 miles and $4 for distances more than 20 miles.
“We transport about 200 people every day,” Frazier said. “PATS provides transportation for people who don’t have a way to get to doctors’ appointments, or to get medication or go to the grocery store, to work and other places of importance.”
Frazier said, until he started to work with PATS, he had no idea of the number of people in Pike County who don’t have dependable transportation or any transportation at all.
“PATS is a real blessing to so many people,” he said. “Without PATS, a lot of people wouldn’t have a way to go doctor’s appointments or even to the grocery store. I can’t imagine what that would be like.”
On behalf of all those who are served by PATS, Frazier expressed appreciation to Brundidge, Troy and the Pike County Commission for providing the local match in support of the grant.
“PATS is a much needed and greatly appreciated public service that the cities and the county commission provide for our citizens,” he said. “We depend on this local support to help PATS stay on the road.”