NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KFSM) – Ozark Regional Transit said almost 300,000 people used its buses in 2016. Without that service a lot of people are having to find a different way to get around.
“Instead of being able to catch the bus right in front of our apartment complex we had to walk over two miles uphill,” Sammie Schancer said.
Sammie Schancer has been using ORT off and on for 15 years, but on Tuesday (Jan. 10) she had to find a Razorback Transit bus stop.
“It's what I completely and totally rely on. I have no other means of transportation. It's what I solely rely on to get groceries for my kids, to get around with my kids, to get to doctors' appointments,” she said.
Many people also rely on ORT to get the food they need. Jimmie Conduff, executive director of Lifesource International in Fayetteville, said a third to 50 percent of their clients and volunteers use ORT to get to their facility.
“You're looking at families who are going to go without, they are going to be hungry because they don't have a way to get to a food pantry to be able to get the normal food they would get,” Conduff said.
Conduff said they could also see an influx of people who have vehicles having to spend their money differently and in turn needing help with food.
He encourages people who no longer have a way to get around to task to their friends and neighbors for a ride.
“Those friends and neighbors please take into consideration that their normal transit is not there and they try but they are going to rely on their friends and neighbors even more,” he said.
The University of Arkansas’ bus system, Razorback Transit, is free to anyone. Razorback transit officials have been in touch with ORT and they are evaluating what they can do to help.