Riders speak up for county transportation

Friday, July 8, 2011

Rides to work and medical appointments are among the various reasons people ride the vans available from the Marshall County Transportation Service.

Ultimately, it's because they don't have their own vehicles, or can't drive themselves as revealed by three riders who spoke about the service in separate telephone interviews.

Two are women who remember the days when they had to ride in the back of a bus. Both say that now the driver not only helps them into the first bench seat on the van, but he also fastens their seatbelt.

"We're blessed to have it," said Allie Ray, 73, of 5th Avenue North who rides the van to her dialysis treatments three times a week... I go very early because I want to be the first patient ... Usually I'm the only person on the van at 5:30 a.m."

Sometimes there are other passengers with her on the van when she's taken home.

"Sometimes I ride it to the beautician..."

And there are times when people are on the van when she goes to Wal-Mart.

"My vision is very poor, so I don't drive," Ray said. "I do not own a car."

Born and raised in Marshall County, she attended Jones Training School. She's a member of Greater First Baptist Church.

Bert Reese, 32, of South Ellington Parkway rides the van to where he answers the phone, takes messages and shreds paper at the Marshall County Impact Center.

"It gives me some independence and freedom," Reese said.

When the weather is good, he sits outside waiting for the van.

He lives with his parents. They drive him when he can't ride the van. Reese is blind as a result of an oxygen imbalance in his eyes when he was a baby. He walks with a white cane and attended a school for the blind in Talladega, Ala.

Reese is originally from Winfield, Ala., where his father was laid off. His father's brother lives in Fayetteville and helped his parents recover.

He attends Lakeview Baptist Church and says, "I enjoy riding the van." The people running the service are courteous, friendly and understanding.

Mary Tally, 73, of Petersburg rides the van "because we didn't have any transportation here at the home."

She lives with her son who could drive, but he had a crash and hasn't been able to get another car.

Tally has used the van service for two years.

She's a dialysis patient and a woman at the clinic helped her find the van service. It costs her $48 a month to ride the van. She pays for it from her Social Security check.

The grocery and other medical appointments are other reasons she used the van.

Originally from Maury County, Tally was raised by her single mother because her father was killed in a phosphate mine accident. Her mother was from Fayetteville, so the young family moved to Lincoln County after the accident.