Smith County temporary fix for GoBus customers left stranded - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Smith County temporary fix for GoBus customers left stranded

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GoBus service could leave 107 customers stranded. (Source: KLTV Staff) GoBus service could leave 107 customers stranded. (Source: KLTV Staff)

Smith County and TxDOT have stepped up and are providing a temporary fix to a transportation problem that spans the entire region. The last census changed the funding for GoBus, a service supplied by the East Texas Council of Governments. GoBus had been operating without the full funding for most of the past year, but was forced to stop June 15. That would have left 107 Smith County residents who previously relied on GoBus will be left out of the GoBus route.

The changes affect many smaller towns near Tyler and Longview that are now considered an urban area. But, Friday Smith County announced a temporary fix for their customers who are stranded without the service. One woman who has used GoBus for seven years and explained why a simple bus ride means life or death for some riders.

Karen Sanders was just getting home from her daily errands. She hopped off the GoBus with her things and stepped into her yard. But, four weeks ago a letter arrived in the mailbox that would put the brakes on her ride.

“The stress factor has been enormous and I know for everyone else they all got the letter at the same time,” she explained.

With no car and no other options she said, “I don’t know what I’d do without the service.”

GoBus, a free service, is her only way to leave home and return.

“Having to take a taxi for $30 to get to a Walmart and then thirty back, I mean, that’s my grocery money right there,” she said.

That letter explained that her home along with more than one hundred others would be left out of the route because areas once considered rural would now be considered urban under the zoning plan. That means no more GoBus as of June 15, 2014 and no more errands.

“Everything, everything, everything, medication, doctors appointments, fun, senior center, to the grocery store, clothing store,” she said she uses GoBus for any local traveling.

Karen explained riders are often handicapped, mentally challenged, or even going to receive vital dialysis treatments.

“I had one woman say, you know, I guess I’ll just stay home and die.”

But the county and TxDOT have stepped up. Federal funds have been redirected to provide a temporary voucher based program to those stranded customers. For riders like Karen it’s a big relief.

“It means that I have to stop thinking about stocking up on food because I can get to the grocery store.”

But, still, no permanent fix to assure GoBus will always come back.

For now, GoBus customers can call NDMJ for service after June 15. Services need to be scheduled one day ahead of time by calling NDMJ at 903-592-3232.

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