MILLEDGEVILLE — Public transportation facilitates visits to and from medical appointments or grocery gathering for numerous Baldwin County residents.
For 18 years, the Section 5311 Rural Transportation program, managed through the county fire department, has operated with an objective to provide cost-effective mobility throughout the community.
Dr. Jim Lidstone, the director for Georgia College’s Center for Health & Social Issues, said public transit offers a vital community health service.
“In communities like ours, this is probably the only option for public transportation that people have,” Lidstone said. “The population that we are trying to reach here probably doesn’t have reliable transportation so this is one of the only ways they can get to appointments and things like that.”
Baldwin Transit consists of two vans based at the Allen Memorial Drive fire station.
One transit services van outfitted for ambulatory persons features a wheelchair lift and has room for just one onboard, as well as eight passengers. The other vehicle is a regular 15-passenger van.
Drivers carry out transport services from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Rides costing $2 per passenger per trip are reservation only.
Baldwin Transit dispatcher Melody Gaston said each vehicle sees around 27 people daily totaling a $106 fare revenue average for both vans.
Gaston said a recent Tuesday high of $132 is the most ever. Both drivers successfully transported 32 passengers each and were back on the lot at 4 p.m., according to the proud dispatcher.
Most destinations are for service center for children with disabilities, dialysis, medical appointments and work. Gaston said the drivers understand medical conditions of their passengers.
“Both are the best I’ve had. The customers love them,” Gaston said.
RouteMatch software helps the dispatcher preschedule van trips because the program is constantly booked. Citizens wanting the Baldwin Transit service are encouraged to prearrange pickups. Many customers have days and times planned for an entire year in RouteMatch.