OATS Transit came to the Marshfield Senior Center on June 19 in a brand new bus.
It is something that both OATS drivers and passengers will look forward to in Webster County. In February, the Webster County OATS Transit received a grant in the amount of $10,000 from the Webster Electric Foundation for the purpose of purchasing the new bus. According to Eddie Delp, southwest Missouri region area manager for OATS Transit, OATS has committees in each county made up of volunteers who raise money to help purchase the buses. Each county committee helps pay for a bus every five years.
“Part of what the committee is supposed to do is help us raise money to buy buses,” said Delp. “Their bus match amount this year was $11,400, but since they got the grant they only had to come up with $1,400. It helped the committee.”
Delp said they have about five buses assigned to Webster County right now. The Rogersville to Fordland bus runs Monday through Friday, the Marshfield bus runs from Monday through Friday, the Seymour area bus runs from Tuesday through Thursday and the county-wide bus runs three Tuesdays and three Thursdays a month. Rodne Colton, one of the drivers for the OATS Transit bus, said he has been driving the new bus for two weeks now. The bus is able to transport 12 ambulatory and two wheelchair clients all at the same time. It is also lift equipped for passengers who have trouble walking up the steps.
“I know one regular lady who rides twice a week multiple times,” said Colton. “She has to use the lift. She doesn’t walk real well and coming up the steps she can’t see, so this helps her quite a bit.”
According to Colton, he is given a list of passengers to help him with pickup locations. He said there are new tablets coming out to assist drivers with dispatching, scheduling and routing buses.
“I’m used to doing things with paper and pencil,” said Colton. “With the tablets, I think it will really help the drivers out in keeping track of the schedules and stops.”
Depending on the day, Colton said the number of people he picks up on average ranges from nine to 16. He said the first two weeks of the month are the busiest for him, but it slows down at the end of the month.
“I take people shopping, hair salons, doctor’s appointments,” said Colton. “There’s a lot of places I’ll take them.”
It is a $2 fair to ride the bus for the first stop and $1 for any extra stop after that. Delp explained if passengers are over 60 and going to the senior center for lunch, it is free.
“It is part of our strive to get seniors adequate nutrition,” said Delp. “Any time Colton takes a senior to the senior center to eat, there is no charge.”
While the OATS Transit originally started out for seniors, the organization has changed it to where anyone can ride a bus. To schedule a ride in Webster County call the Springfield OATS Transit Office at 800-770-6287.
July 2019 Webster County OATS Transit Schedule
To Lebanon: July 11
To Marshfield from Seymour, Fordland, Rogersville: July 25
Rogersville in town: Monday through Friday
Rogersville area to Seymour food bank: July 25
Seymour in town: Tuesdays and Thursdays
Marshfield in town: Monday through Friday
Niangua, Elkland to Marshfield: July 5 and 19
*Fares may apply
To Springfield from
• Seymour, Fordland, Rogersville: July 1 and 15
• Marshfield, Elkland, Niangua: July 23
Long distance medical transportation is also available from Webster County to Springfield via the Weekly Express on every other Wednesday each month. Trips must be scheduled 48 hours in advance by calling the OATS Office at 1-800-770-6287.
OATS Transit will be closed, and most regular routes will not be running on July 4th for Independence Day.