SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Smith County Commissioners Court has approved the reapplication process for funding from Texas Department of Transportation that would provide transportation services to the elderly and disabled.
Funds provided by TxDOT for the Section 5310 program would be used to create a voucher program so those who live outside the city limits of Tyler have the ability to get access to transportation.
“The service, as it’s designed right now, is a contract service through NDMJ Transportation locally,” said Brian Reynolds, fleet administration for Smith County. “They send out a cab or a handicapped-accessible vehicle depending on what’s needed. And it’s available through a voucher that’s received. Once the citizens are qualified, they can request that service.”
Reynolds said the need for such transportation has increased to more than the 5,000 rides provided in 2018.
“The need is very broad; particularly this area though, we are seeing an increase." said Reynolds. “A couple of the surveys done particularly around transportation and mobility have show that Smith County has a 7.2 percent increase in the last couple years in our senior population in particular.”
For retirees and anyone living with special needs or disabilities, transportation can be a barrier, Reynolds said. The Section 5310 program was proposed as a way to fill that gap.
“We’ve got a dozen letters of support from different agencies and different organizations who they’re claiming this is literally a lifesaver for of the people in this areas,” Reynolds explained. “Both for healthcare, getting to appointments, for employment; overcoming barriers that otherwise they would keep them housebound.”
The county is requesting around $360,000 over a two-year period. Friday’s application approval was the first step to receive Section 5310 funding in Smith County. The application has been sent to TxDOT for approval, and funding will then be granted. Reynolds said it’s then a matter of promoting the service so more people know its available.