Handicap bus riders frown on proposed rate increase

Charlene Ward-Fleming gives her opinion on proposed Trans-AID rate hikes at a meeting held last week.

Handicap bus riders frown on proposed rate increase
March 30
07:00 2017

Photo by Todd Luck



There was no shortage of comments and concerns during the first meeting held on Winston-Salem Transit Authority’s proposed Trans-AID rate hike last week.

The public comment meeting at the Carver School Branch Library on Friday, March 24, was well attended with more than 20 participants, many using walkers or wheelchairs, trying to fit into a small conference room.

Trans-AID gives on-demand rides to qualified handicap riders. Currently, WSTA is considering raising rates from 50 cents to $1 and eliminating the Medicaid exemption that lets most riders use it for free. Medicaid would continue to fully cover rides for medical purposes.

Even raised to a dollar, the fee would still be lower than other cities of similar size to Winston-Salem and no where near the $18 it costs WSTA per trip.

After the public hearings, comments will be given to the WSTA board and City Council for a final decision. The WSTA is facing a projected $1.8 million budget deficit for next fiscal year.

Several riders said that while they’re thankful for the service, a dollar is a lot on a fixed income. Judy Webster said that the current rate is small enough that she can pay it or even “bum” the change if she didn’t have it on her.

“Fifty cents works for me,” she said. Webster also complained about waiting an hour for Trans-AID to come and pick her up several times. Two other riders said they’d had similar experiences recently. WSTA is taking numerous actions to try to cut down on Trans-AID wait time, including increasing drivers and acquiring new vehicles.

Several riders in a group home said they only get $66 to spend a month and paying for TrainsAid, which would be $1 to the destination and $1 for the return trip, would be a lot. One gave an example of trips he takes to volunteer at the Forsyth Humane Society three days a week.

A couple of riders said they felt the increase was reasonable, citing higher rates in other cities. Charlene Ward-Fleming said that when she lived in Massachusetts, Trans-AID was $8 for non-medical trips.

“That dollar is just a drop in the bucket from what it could be,” said Ward-Fleming.

Many riders also said they were having to rely more on Trans-AID because changes in bus routes made the closest bus stop too far away for them to get to.

The hearing also included information on the many Trans-AID changes WSTA is making because of a Federal Transit Authority audit. Aside from actions to shorten wait and travel time, the WSTA has made changes to its policy on things like suspending disruptive passengers and no shows. It’s also added more staff to answer calls and revised the eligibility process to make it faster.

For more information on the upcoming Trans-AID meetings, go to

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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