New transit route offered in Dothan

Published: Nov. 2, 2017 at 6:10 PM CDT|Updated: Nov. 2, 2017 at 6:30 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - Starting Monday, Wiregrass Transit Authority will offer their only loop route for people to get around Dothan. Currently, pickup by the transit authority is based on appointment.

"Where the transportation in the city, generally, has been this curbside pickup, you call ahead two weeks in advance and need to get to your doctor's appointment. Sometimes life is more urgent than that," said Kody Kirchhoff, Executive Director at The Harbor.

The new loop is a partnership between the transit authority, The Harbor church, and organizations like Southeast Alabama Homeless Coalition (SEACH). It will run every Monday and Thursday. The pickup location is at The Harbor on N. Foster Street.

The goal is to help the homeless and financially strapped population in Dothan get to things like their doctor's appointment or the Career Center at a reasonable price.

"We've been working with the Wiregrass Transit Authority for some time now to try and find some minimal fixed routes that would be economically feasible for the transit authority, but would also meet the needs of populations that would not be able to get to hospitals or work," said David Jamison, President of the Southeast Alabama Homeless Coalition.

"Even a cab company to get out of the Circle can be a $10 trip. I understand that. They have the right to charge whatever they need to, but now being able to transport people in bulk, with Wiregrass Transit we can do it for a much cheaper cost," said Kirchhoff.

The total cost for a ride is $4.00. That's $2.00 each direction. For people who may not be able to afford the cost of a ride, they can contact The Harbor at 334-790-4031 for a ride voucher.

Not only will it save the passenger money, it could help the transit system more efficiently meet the needs of the community.

"We have so many phone calls that come in at once. Sometimes they can't get them at once. Some people have to wait until we get there. These already being scheduled out - everybody will be picked up and dropped off at a certain time," said Tasha Potter, Loop Route Driver.

Below is the route schedule:

9:00 am: Pick up at The Harbor and drop off at Southeast Alabama Medical Center and Career Center
10:30 am: Pick up at Southeast Alabama Medical Center and Career Center and drop off at The Harbor.
11:00 am: Pick up at The Harbor and drop off at Digestive Health, MAO Clinic, Alabama Clinic, Social Security Office, Flowers Hospital.
1:00 pm: Pick up at Flowers Hospital and drop off at The Harbor.

Partners say the route was chosen with the rider in mind, "In the downtown core to start with, find out what their realistic needs are where they really need to go, not just where we think they need to go, and how can we start getting them to the places they need to go," said Darrell Rigsby, Transportation Director.

"Dothan breaks down into an X pattern. Either anchored by a Walmart store on the north or south or a hospital. We have two major hospitals. One is private and one is public. A lot of the working areas are in relationship to those points," said Jamison. 
According to the transit authority, it won't cost any extra money to start the new route, it just requires a shift of resources.

The organizations involved hope that this new route is just the beginning.

"Our hope eventually is that we can team with employers around the city and we can take a loop to Wayne Farms or some of the large employers," said Kirchhoff.

The Wiregrass Transit Authority says it will make modifications to stops and frequency of stops based on the needs of passengers once the routes begin.

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