Emergency funding to DATA sought

By Breck Hapner

November 22, 2013

To the editor:

You’ve seen them. They are the yellow buses traveling Delaware County safely delivering passengers to destinations of employment, students attending Columbus State Community College, city and county schools, parents taking their children to daycare, shopping, doctor’s appointments and adults spending their day at the Center for Senior Health at Willow Brook South, the YMCA, Council For Older Adults and the Senior Center Inc.

These yellow buses called DATA (Delaware Area Transit Agency) have saved many from having to change work hours to keep appointments necessary for loved ones and their good health.

There are many people from Delaware County riding the DATA bus daily to the COTA Park & Ride, transferring to the COTA bus, continuing on to their employment, returning to Delaware via COTA and transferring to DATA for the return home.

The DATA bus helps us keep our jobs. Without this transportation, many would be unable to retain employment.

DATA and their passengers are currently suffering stressful days and night worrying about the changes to begin Jan. 1, including an increase for Demand Response that most, if not all, won’t be able to afford.

The subscription program payment plan allowing a rider to schedule guaranteed transportation for an extended time will be discontinued Dec. 31. This is a much less stressful plan for riders because they are scheduled without having to contact DATA for confirmation. We need this continued. The Council For Older Adults has contributed funding to DATA for many years, offering a senior citizen discount benefiting many. COA may not be able to continue this funding due to transportation changes but we are hoping they will come to our aid again.

The DATA fixed routes will continue as they have been. Demand Response (allowing a rider to schedule ahead for appointments or transportation to and from employment) fees will increase so much that most riders solely dependent on DATA won’t be able to afford it. Demand Response is not a guaranteed ride. You must call DATA after 2 p.m. each day to confirm DATA scheduling. If this is your only available work transportation, your employment could be in jeopardy. The constant worry over transportation will be stressful for all riders and their families.

Therefore, I request that Delaware County Commissioners, Delaware City Council members and the Ohio Department of Transportation direct emergency funding to DATA, enabling them to continue serving Delaware City and Delaware County constituents with valuable and much needed services.

Lucinda Long