Janet Smith, Director of St. Clair County Public Transportation wanted to clarify a few common misconceptions about the fully established transit system serving St. Clair County when she spoke at a recent Pell City Kiwanis meeting.
“We are not only for seniors or the handicapped,” Smith said. “We are for people of any age for any reason. If they need to visit friends, pay bills, or visit the doctor, we can help.”
St. Clair County Public Transportation serves over 3200 people every month, including agreements with M4A for seniors, the ARC program for handicapped individuals, and the Day Program in Ashville.
The Transportation system also helps with the Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) program, which was established to “address the unique transportation challenges faced by welfare recipients and low-income persons seeking to obtain and maintain employment.” According to the Federal Transit Administration, many new entry-level jobs are located in suburban areas, and low-income individuals have difficulty accessing these jobs from their inner city, urban, or rural neighborhoods. The program offers reliable transportation to and from work for these individuals.
St. Clair County Public Transportation began in 2009, and has been growing throughout St. Clair County since. Currently, they operate eleven 17-passenger buses and three minivans.
“I am very proud to say we have 17 drivers and they love what they do,” Janet Smith, said. “Most of them are retirees and they are respected members of the community.”
The drivers do not have a set route — every day is different dependent on demand. Days usually begin around 6 a.m. for drivers and end at 6 p.m.
The transit system receives some federal funds administered by the Alabama Department of Transportation, and local match funding by the St. Clair County Commission. Smith states that most of the buses are purchased through grants, with 80 percent being paid by grant money and 20 percent by county funds.
With the benefit of federal and county funds and the use of grants, St. Clair County Public Transportation intends to keep their charges low for those needing their services. Cost is $2 one way per five-mile radius within the county and they accept cash only. Caregivers accompanying patrons are not charged.
People needing to use the service should contact the St. Clair County Public Transportation office 24 hours in advance by calling 205-338-1352 or 205-640-0303.