NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Nashville woman hopes to improve transportation options for people with disabilities and the elderly with her newly-licensed organization.
Rhonda Clark started Able & Ready Transportation Inc., a non-emergency company with the goal of providing timely, reliable and cost-efficient transportation services. She says while the need is always there, there is room to add another transportation company.
As someone with cerebral palsy and relies on her service dog, Clark is confident her experience can provide better insight.
Clark has a retrofitted van that allows her travel with a driver but if she does not have one for the day, she uses either a public or private transit. However, she says the public option is too restrictive since it is only within Davidson County.
On the other hand, traveling outside of Nashville with a private company has cost her up to $190 one way.
"The number one reason people with disability can't keep a job is lack of transportation. I want people to live, work and do what they want and not be restricted," Clark told NewsChannel 5.
The company just begun so she is in the process of purchasing at least four new ADA-compliant vans and hire drivers. Her big goal is to drop off clients outside of Davidson County if they choose and be available on the weekends, and possibly on the holidays.
"We're not just going to you to your doctor, if somebody wants to go to a movie they'll be able to go to the movies," she added.
Her new company began as several changes to the city's transit plan will take effect in two weeks that will include fewer bus routes, reduced number of hours and increased costs to ride a bus.
WeGo is adopting the changes to work around an $8.7 million budget deficit which will also make the fare for transit services to people with disabilities and the elderly go up.
The city provides WeGo Access, and the soon-to-be permanent WeGo Access on Demand that cuts down reservation times and allows same-day pick-up. Changes to WeGo's paratransit service fares include an increase from $3.40 to $3.70 per trip for the agency’s traditional Access service, which is a flat fee per trip, regardless of distance within Davidson County.
Access on Demand service will see an increase from $6.00 to $7.00 for the first 14 miles, and a $1.00 per mile surcharge thereafter.
For the traditional Access service, WeGo provided 446,139 trips in 2018. There are approximately 90 paratransit-equipped vans, and the agency also works with three third-party service providers for Access on Demand.
Clark has been using Access on Demand but it is not available on the weekends which can be frustrating since she goes to church.
She is unsure yet what the exact price will be but the ballpark could be around $30 to $40 per trip.
If you would like to help Clark raise money for the vans, click on this link.