Anderson Co. develops new transportation program to help people get to work

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ANDERSON COUNTY, SC (WSPA)–A lack of transportation is one of the biggest barriers in finding people to fill jobs in Anderson County. Now, county leaders are developing a new transportation program to aid in the problem.

Anderson County officials said many jobs are on the market, but one roadblock is stopping the people who are looking for work.

“What we’re trying to do right now, is we have whole lot of industry in Anderson County. And we’re going to get more industry in Anderson County, but we also have a lot of people in Anderson County, who would like to go to work, but because of unforeseen or unfortunate circumstances, don’t have transportation,” said Rusty Burns, Administrator for Anderson County.

Burns said currently, the City of Anderson has a bus service, but those buses don’t always operate when people need to go to work. Melynda Craig had a job at one point, but lost it due to no longer having a way there.

“I was working at Anderson Industries and I enjoyed that job, but it’s just I had to quit because my car unfortunately broke down and I just couldn’t get out there,” Craig said.

As a solution, Anderson County is putting its foot to the pedal with a new program called, “Point-to-Point Transportation.”

“Where they would actually, you would call someone like Uber, they would go to your house, pick you up, carry you to work, when you got off and then they would carry you back,” Burns said.

Currently, the county is trying to get non-profits and people on board to become contractors as drivers.

“We have talked to Uber. We will be talking to others to see if we can make this happen, and it would be county wide,” Burns said. “We’ve also discussed with a local church, and they’re going to do a pilot project and they will be working with people to carry them to work and then carry them back home. But they’re just now getting started,” he added.

South Main Chapel & Mercy Center is already is working with Anderson County with its program called, “Ride To Work Anderson”.

“In our work in the community, we know that there’s a gap in transportation. we know that there are lots of good jobs out there, but getting to those jobs are difficult,” said Dave Phillips, Volunteer at South Main Chapel and Mercy Center.

“Our responsibility is to schedule and contract the convenience that will make that happen. That’s where we’re reaching out and talking to Anderson County to try to help us fill that gap,” Phillips said. “The important part is, this is a temporary program. This is designed to be a three to four month program, where we expect by the end of that time, we’ve helped them solve whatever that problem is. They come to us because they couldn’t get to that good job, and what we’re trying to do is help fill that gap,” he added.

While there could potentially be a small cost for Anderson County’s Point-to-Point program, leaders are going after grants to cut the cost as much as possible.

“We’re looking to do to see if there’s a possibility using federal funds, transportation funds, that might traditionally go to a bus service to use to subsidize that rate,” Burns said.

Overall, the goal is to keep the economic wheels turning all over the county, by getting people to work, and creating new jobs for people getting them there.

“What we would like to do is have a private contractor do this. So it’s good for everybody and it puts money into the economy,” Burns said.

“It also puts money back into our economy. So we’re actually hiring people from the local community to do the work of driving the person to work,” Phillips said.

“The buses are great, but they don’t always run at the times people are working. And two, Uber and Lyft are great too, but people don’t always have money for that. So the point-to-point transportation system, sounds like a wonderful idea. You know if it’s less than the bus,” Craig said.

Burns said they will start with a pilot project first, that will provide transportation to veterans.

“Primarily, we would start with a pilot project, to see how successful it was. We’ve had problems with transportation for our veterans. So we purchased our own van. The VA will run a bus to the VA hospital in Augusta, they will run one to Columbia,” Burns said. “So we’ve purchased a van and when COVID dies down enough, we’ll already have the van, and we already have the money for a drivers. When COVID settles down, which I hope is sooner rather than later, we will be able to go to the veteran’s house, pick them up, carry them to local doctor opportunities,” he said.

The county hopes to get the point-to-point initiative for everyone started within the next three to four months.

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