I-Ride making house calls

Published 9:46 am Friday, October 19, 2012


COURTLAND—The I-Ride bus service now picks up residents at their homes in Courtland, Boykins, Branchville, Hunterdale, Newsoms and Sedley.

For $1, riders can take the bus to Walmart in Franklin. Once at the Walmart shopping center, passengers may connect to the Franklin I-Ride, which goes to 26 locations in the city.

Sponsored by Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia, I-Ride is not limited to any particular age group. Youth 12 and under ride free with an adult.

For the home service, passengers must call the Franklin office at 516-8556 a day ahead for pickup.

Times are limited.

Buses will be in Courtland from 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; Boykins, Branchville and Newsoms, 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Tuesdays; and Hunterdale and Sedley, 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. Thursdays.

The service has been a help to Buck Copeland, 77, of Courtland.

“I had to pay people to give me rides,” Copeland said.

The same goes for Elsie Copeland, 80, of Courtland, who no longer drives.

Other people who said they’ve been enjoying the expanded service are Juanita Davis, 54, Margaret Joyner, 52, and Duke Ricks, 72, all who have been using I-Ride for about five years on its general route to Courtland.

Although Jim Crawl of Sedley said he and his wife have not yet had the time to use the service, he’s looking ahead.

“I want this to grow for my neighbors, friends and also myself when the time comes,” said Crawl, 66, who retired and moved to Western Tidewater with his wife eight years ago. Previously they had taken public transportation in Virginia Beach.

Crawl also said he thinks that many county people are relying on friends and families.

“Any of which could go away at a moment’s notice,” he said. “People are going to have to acknowledge that it’s valuable in the community and start using it in order for it to be successful.”

Kim Slaughter, transportation supervisor for Western Tidewater, said a feasibility study was done to determine the need.

“We got so many calls,” Slaughter said. “Originally the routes were set up by times, and the buses would go around in neighborhoods in Courtland.”

Slaughter said the service could expand.

“It’s up to people in the community to tell me what they need for transportation,” he said. “You have to court people and teach them what public transport can offer.”

Slaughter estimates that 75 people a day use the I-Ride buses for the home service.

“Easily 20 for Courtland, and three to four a week for Boykins and Newsoms,” he said.

“Right now he wants to implement Capron, and that will start soon,” added Janice Hicks, a driver and Slaughter’s assistant. “That would be the same days as Courtland.”

I-Ride has been serving Western Tidewater for five years. Money from private foundations, the county and city, as well as the $1 fees pay for it.