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Escambia paratransit system more reliable to help disabled people

Escambia County's paratransit system is more reliable today with their fleet of fifteen new vehicles.
The service helps people with disabilities get to the medical care and treatments they need.

Every day, 450 disabled citizens of Escambia County rely on public transportation to reach necessary medical attention. Now their ride just got a whole lot smoother.
At a ribbon cutting ceremony in front of Davita Dialysis Center Monday afternoon, the county unveiled 15 new vehicles.
The buses will be used to transport disabled citizens to medical facilities as needed.

Lumon May says, "Many of our citizens with disabilities just don't have a voice. And I was appalled at the conditions of the vehicles, for people who were sick and had to ride to get their treatment."

At the beginning of July, Escambia County community transportation took over services from Pensacola Bay transportation.
Some of the old vehicles had more than 200,000 miles on them....
So the county is replacing them with new.

Sondra Jackson uses the paratransit system, and says the upgrades were needed. "I felt kind of sorry for the people who were in the wheelchairs because sometimes you had difficulty in getting the lifts up, sometimes they wouldn't go up and down at all."

The new buses are outfitted with updated features, including GPS systems to help drivers reach passengers, and facilities, with fewer problems.

"Before if you got a driver and they didn't know where you lived, you had to tell them when to turn and everything. This way they can just program everything right in," said Jackson.

They were paid for mostly through state grants.
County Commissioner Lumon May says the reliability of new vehicles was most important for users like Jackson.
"Not only does she not have to wait an hour and a half before her appointment, an hour and a half after her appointment because the vehicles are breaking down, that she doesn't have to get up three hours early to make her dialysis appointment."

Commissioner May says seven additional vehicles will be added to the fleet of 15 that was welcomed today.