GOBUS cuts leave many East Texans without transportation

GOBUS cuts leave many East Texans without transportation

Thousands of East Texans -- many elderly and disabled -- rely on the GOBUS to get them where they need to go. But because of budget cuts, nearly 200 of those people will soon be left scrambling to find another way to get around.

Sixty-six-year-old Carl Love is just one of the 180 people who got a letter in the mail last month, telling him that the service he depends on to take him grocery shopping and to his dialysis appointments three times a week will soon be ending.

"I gotta get there. If I don't get there, I'm dead," Love said.

Love lives alone, is wheelchair-bound and has diabetes. He's used the GOBUS for the past three years, but on June 15, he'll be on his own.

"It's very disturbing," he said. "When it gets down under seven days, I'm gonna go into panic mode."

John Hedrick is with the East Texas Council of Governments -- the organization that, until now, operated GOBUS with funds from the Federal Transit Administration and TxDot.

But as a result of the 2010 U.S. census, the zoning has been changed -- meaning some people who live outside city limits in Tyler and Longview, and use the GOBUS, are now considered outside the urbanized zones and can no longer use the service.

Because of that, Hedrick says the funds were redirected to another transportation provider.

"We have no funding," he said. "We can't do anything without funding to do it. We're just kind of stuck."

Hedrick says they continued offering the services for almost a year with no money, exhausting every option to try to keep it going.

"We weren't successful in finding other funding, which we tried to do not wanting to leave customers stranded, but just weren't successful at it," he said.

Love says Tyler Transit, who is now getting the funds that used to go to GOBUS, say they can't help him because he's outside of city limits. And he's not alone.

"The service is really necessary because I ride with a lot of different people, and you get to know some of those people and they need it -- they need this service," he said.

CBS19 called officials with Smith County, who directed us to NDMJ Transportation out of Tyler. 

The president of that company, Jamal Moharer, tells us that they have offered to take care of all the customers in the Tyler urbanized zone, but unfortunately, he says, Tyler Transit won't provide the funding for them to do that -- even though they're now getting the money that used to go to GOBUS.

We reached out to Tyler Transit for a response, but they said there was no one available to comment until after the weekend.

Moharer says Smith County has a voucher program that can help provide transportation for people who qualify for maybe a few weeks, but those vouchers are meant to supplement existing services -- not to replace them.

If you rely on the GOBUS and need help making new arrangements, you can call NDMJ Transportation to see if you qualify.


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