CHRISTIAN COUNTY, Mo. Getting around in Christian County can be tricky, especially for those with disabilities.
"Most of our individuals don't drive so without families or support around them they had no way to get to work, to get out in the community to live a high quality and inclusive life," said Andrea Swope, Executive Director of CC Links.
CC Links is a Christian County board that advocates for those living with developmental disabilities, but their biggest obstacle when it comes to helping clients is a lack of transportation.
"Our board of directors does strategic planning and through that plan they had a 10-year goal of providing transportation services in Christian County," said Swope .
"Through partnerships and contacts with OATS we were able to get that started a lot quicker than we thought. Within two years we've been able to get a contract in place and provide county-wide transportation for people with developmental disabilities as well as the general population," Swope explained.
Before this agreement, OATS only operated in Christian County for two days a week under a contract with the Area Agency on Aging. Now they'll operate 5 days a week and pick up all riders regardless of age, income, or ability.
"We are the primary rural general public transportation provider in most of our 17 counties," said Jeffrey Robinson, Regional Director for OATS Southwest Region.
"In larger cities, many people have their own transportation system but we are a non-for profit so anytime we can get the buy in for someone in the community to provide transportation it's always a good thing for everybody," Robinson explained.
The service will cost just over $46,000. Half is covered by a federal transportation grant and the other half is paid for by CC Links. A $2 travel fare for riders will help offset their cost.
"It's outstanding. Anytime we can expand transportation opportunities for the public, weather it's for a specific customer or expanding opportunities to through these federal funds to the general public, it's always a great thing for the public," said Robinson.
In 2016 OATS served 100 riders in Christian County. With the change they expect those numbers to more than triple for this year.
To schedule a pick-up in Christian County contact OATS at (417) 887-9272 or visit their website: http://www.oatstransit.org