Council approves funding for purchase of new Call-A-Bus

Thursday, December 22, 2016

BY QUANNY CARR — The City Council approved funding to purchase a new Call-A-Bus at the Dec. 19 meeting, after members from the Hyattsville community voiced concerns about lack of service and unreliability.

The original proposal was discussed during the Dec. 5 City Council meeting. The proposal requested “$20,000 be re-appropriated from the Department of Public Works to the Department of Community Services to purchase a reliable Transport Vehicle/Call-A-Bus.”

During that meeting, residents of Hyattsville spoke about their experiences with the program and called on the city to approve the proposal.

“I have a 92 year old mother … We had scheduled a Call-A-Bus pickup to get her to Providence Hospital for a very important medical examination,” said one resident. “The bus broke down. We didn’t know until long afterwards, and thank goodness a good samaritan, a neighbor of my mom’s, offered to give us a ride there and back.”

She finished her personal testimony, imploring the council for change.

“I press upon you with all of my heart, I beg you, please, find the money to invest in a dependable bus. Otherwise your senior programs are going to fall by the wayside.”

The bus provides a convenient transportation service for senior citizens and people with disabilities, to aid in everyday errands like medical appointments and grocery store trips, from Monday to Friday at a cost of $2 each way.

One resident who spoke positively about the program addressed the unreliability of the vehicle: “You can’t keep putting Band-Aids on Band-Aids.”

According to the proposal, the current Call-A-Bus, provided by the county, has a reputation for being unreliable, breaking down and needing repair services “on average 20 percent of the time each month.”

The customers who depend on the bus had enough of the frequent breakdowns.

“I urge you … The senior citizens and the disabled need this service,” said another resident during the meeting.

The resident continued to tell the council her alternate solution to transportation when the Call-a-Bus breaks down: “You have to scramble and go to Metro Access. And Metro Access is twice what it costs to ride the bus.”

Jake Rollow, the community services director of Hyattsville, said that the department is excited about the budget amendment approval. He added that there is a 120-day turnaround from the time the bus is ordered to when it’s delivered.

Rollow said that having a working bus will be “a real asset to the city.”

After researching vehicles, the staff identified the 2017 Ford Champion Challenger as the best vehicle for the city’s needs. The Challenger seats 12 people, plus has space for two wheelchairs.

“I think it will be a great benefit to our residents and our Call-A-Bus riders,” he said.