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Local News

ECAT 'Para Transit' Service On the Way

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ECAT
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Escambia County Area Transit is kicking off an expanded local service in North Escambia County next month.

Beginning February 20, a smaller vehicle that can hold up to ten passengers will provide an “on demand” service for special-needs riders living in the area north of Quintette Road. ECAT spokeswoman Linda Roush says it’s called “Para-Transit.”

“It allows people with disabilities; an easier opportunity to get to appointments, or medications they may need or groceries they need to get,” says Roush. “And it’s really a door-to-door kind of service.”

The area includes Century, Bratt, McDavid, Walnut Hill and Molino. Users are required to fill out and submit an Escambia County Community Transport application.

“It’s just paperwork that says that you have a qualified medical issue,” says Roush. “It requires 24 hours’ notice; you pick up the phone and say, ‘I need to get to my doctor’s appointment at 3:00 on a Thursday.’ The service comes to pick you up on that day and return you back.”

The Para Transit route arrives and departs outside the daily scheduled ECAT bus between Pensacola and Century. But, changes could be made at a later time.

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Para Transit begins service in north Escambia County on Feb. 20.

“It’s not a fleet of vehicles, it is one vehicle; but it connects to vehicles that go up past Cantonment,” Roush says. “But this particular vehicle will serve individuals who are living above Quintette Road, all the way up to the Florida-Alabama line.”

ECAT is planning a series of public meeting to provide additional information and receive public input. Two meeting dates and locations already have been announced.

“January 23 at 6 p.m. at Byrneville Park; and the other one will be January 31 at 5 p.m. at the Molino Community Center,” said Roush. “And if we need to add more community input into the process, we’re certainly able and willing to do that as well.”

The service will be funded by some grants providing local, state, and federal monies, including one of $50,000, and $16,000 in a Community Development Block Grant.

“The good news is the bus is here, still going through some kind of cosmetic issues and some safety information that needs to be put on the bus,” Roush says. “But by February 20 we hope to have it up and running on the road.”

If Para Transit is successful, could expansion be in the long-term plan? E-CAT’s Linda Roush says for now, it’s too early to tell.

“We’re still trying to solidify where the best routes will be, and working out the schedule of the drivers, but they’re really getting close,” says Roush. So I can’t really share a good answer [on the future] other than that.”

Para Transit will be available to residents in Century, Molino and McDavid on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays each week. Those living in Walnut Hill, Davisville and Bratt can board on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Hours all days are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.