FRS to Expand Public Transit to Adams County
By Jacob Clary
FRS Transportation Director Damon Lucas expects the organization’s public transit loops to reopen in late spring, which is when the service will also expand public transit to Adams County.
FRS Transportation currently runs a demand-response service in Highland County and non-emergency medical transit in Adams County, but loops have been down since the pandemic started in March of last year. Lucas said that the loops will run a bit differently when they reopen, not having them go in one whole loop and having to go all the way around again.
FRS Transportation offers the demand-response service for multiple price points depending on how far the person is from the city. Those prices are:
· $1 to travel inside city limits.
· $2 to travel up to 10 miles outside city limits.
· $3 to travel more than 10 miles outside city limits.
Currently, fares must be paid in cash, but Joe Adray, the Highland County mobility manager, said that is something that is currently being looked at. People need to call usually at least 24 hours before when they need the service, but FRS also offers a subscription model that automatically schedules people, so they don’t need to call them every time. It is the same price as above, but the person doesn’t need to call.
FRS also has 30-day passes available for those that would like to choose that way. It is $20 for those that live in Hillsboro and $30 for those that live outside the city.
Both Lucas and Adray said there are a lot of people that use the service, around 50-60 people per day both ways, and about 1,500 trips a month. Trips to places of employment are one of the service’s biggest uses, and it offers trips for both first and second shifts. The service also provides rides to of doctor’s appointments and for shopping. However, one area that has decreased significantly is medical appointments, which Lucas said might be because of the backed-up doctor’s office schedules due to people possibly not going during the pandemic.
The service, when scheduled, will be there within a 15-minute window, which Adray stressed was accurate. He also said that as long as the pandemic continues, FRS will continue to sterilize the vans and mitigate COVID-19 problems as much as it can. He said there were initial worries that buses might have similar worries as flying, but due to the extra precautions FRS has instituted, that isn’t much of a problem.
Adray said that an earlier service in Hillsboro used to cost people $20 a trip from the south end of Hillsboro to Walmart.
“A year, a year-and-a-half ago, somebody that needed to get to work in Hillsboro that lived in Hillsboro, there was no alternative except to have their own vehicle, have someone drive them or walk,” Adray said. “In some cases, that was happening. Now, they can schedule their trips and get to work in Hillsboro for a dollar each way. That’s affordable. Twenty dollars each way, you can’t afford that. So, I think that the program’s been a huge success even in face of adversity, which we’re all facing with Covid. But, it’s made it different, but I think it has served the people in Highland County the best way it could have during this pandemic.”
He said that the county transportation committee was started in 2000 by the Highland County commissioners and others who have worked to bring a program such as FRS to Highland County for years.
“The last 20 years, we’ve had one purpose and that was to bring the best transportation to Highland County we could and again, that was a collective goal between multiple agencies in this county and the commissioners and FRS, and so it’s been an ongoing project and hopefully we’ll continue to get much better much further into the future,” Adray said.
Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.