Local News

February 7, 2014

Transit Service wins service award

Second time since 2009

For the second time in five years, the Whitfield County Transit Service has received the Frank J. Hill Outstanding Service Award from the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT).

“We were very honored and surprised when we got the call from Freida Black, GDOT representative, telling us we were being nominated again for the 2013 award, even more so after learning we were chosen as the recipient,” said Melissa Scott, operations manager of the local service, which is open to all local residents, not just the elderly or disabled.

GDOT presents the award each year to highlight rural transportation systems that have worked in communities to enhance transportation services to bridge gaps between people, places and meaningful connections.

Since taking over the service in 2009, Whitfield County has added a full-time operations manager, a full-time grant coordinator, one new dispatcher and two new drivers. Two expansion routes have been added since 2009 due to a steady increase in ridership.

The county has also begun cross-training employees, and hiring administrative and dispatch staff that are certified drivers in order to use their ability to serve as backup drivers when needed. At least two drivers volunteered to be cross trained as a dispatcher, and one has accomplished that goal to date. By doing this, quality service remains intact while routine drivers are out of rotation for personal reasons or in times when the service has more trips than staff drivers can maintain on a given day.

The county has placed bilingual information fliers in the library, churches, grocers, the health department, hospital admissions and physicians’ offices. Staff members also attend senior fairs and job fairs to promote awareness and gauge future needs. They also consult with nursing home activity directors to learn about needs and offer transit service to recreational events outside the facility, such as bowling, fishing and nutritional trips.

The service provides unemployed consumers the means to get to job interviews, and transportation for others to and from their jobs daily. The county is looking to offer local Medical Medicaid consumers with transportation costs covered by the Department of Human Services the option to choose Whitfield Transit as their provider of choice to get to and from critical appointments and treatment centers in the future.

Whitfield Transit has dedicated the expansion route to meet demand for increased farebox trips and has dedicated a driver to assist more with “will call” consumers who work past 4:30 p.m.

All these efforts have added up to a tremendous increase in service since 2009, with ridership up approximately 200 percent. Monthly cashbox fares averaged around $1,400 in January 2009. Today’s average is approximately $3,700.

 

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