RICHMOND, Va. -- After her scheduled GRTC CARE van did not arrive on time, Mornica Dabney was an hour late to work Monday morning.
Dabney, who has a disability, relies on the CARE van to commute to her job in retail.
“Just trying to get here on time is the most, most important thing,” Dabney said. In recent months others dependent on CARE vans have also voiced concerns about tardiness and inconsistencies in service. As Dabney notes, “They’ve been like this for years.”
CARE vans provide door-to-door transportation to the elderly and those with disabilities deemed eligible by Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. GRTC has a contract with MV Transportation to offer the fee-based service. According to MV Transportation’s website, ”We understand the need to provide a high-quality, safe paratransit experience that is compliant, efficient, and delivered within budget.”
As part of the agreement, GRTC provides vehicles to MV Transportation but the company is responsible for logistics and operations. In an effort to improve service, GRTC provided MV Transportation with thirteen new vehicles this month.
MV Transportation is working to provide better service in Richmond. Though the company is recruiting drivers, MV Transportation spokesperson Nikki Frenney noted that due to low pay and high-levels of responsibility there is significant driver turnover.
Additionally, Frenney said six drivers called in sick on Monday, which caused delays across the board and on Dabney's bus. In addition she said the company short more than a dozen drivers.
Frenney apologized for the hardships the delays have caused Dabney, but pointed out that the buses on her route have been late nine out of 43 trips since Feb. 1.
That said Frenney acknowledged the issues some riders are experiencing are unacceptable and said the company is working to correct those deficiencies, including hiring more drivers.
According to GRTC spokesperson Carrie Rose, GRTC does not accept the level of service provided by MV Transportation and is working to determine a path forward.
City leaders met with CARE van riders in February to discuss the ongoing problems and acknowledged late pick up times were unacceptable. Further discussion of the issue is planned for a later date.
Although leaders are working to provide timely ADA compliant transportation, Dabney said, “It needs to be fixed ASAP.”
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