Some services are hard to appreciate the value of until a person truly needs it. For the people who rely on Dodger Area Rapid Transit (DART) buses to get around, it’s hard to imagine doing without it.
DART provides anywhere from 200,000 to 250,000 rides each year, in sunshine and in snow, according to Cliff Weldon, executive director of the Midas Council of Governments, which administers the DART program.
Hop on a DART bus at any give time and one might be surprised at the variety of people using the service. There are kids getting a safe ride to school, senior citizens out buying their groceries and folks who simply would rather leave their own wheels in the garage.
“I wish that more people would understand that the service is for everyone. It’s not just for any one group. It’s not just for persons with disabilities, although we serve a lot of persons with disabilities. It’s not just for the elderly; it’s not just for kids. Anyone can use it, and all are welcome to use it,” Weldon says.
Perhaps the drivers understand that better than anyone. Marsha Waldschmidt has been driving for 12 years and knows many of her regular riders.
“I enjoy meeting the people,” she says. “They really appreciate having a ride.”
One of Marsha’s favorite routes is the church route on Sunday mornings. Rides are provided to Corpus Christi, Sacred Heart and St. Paul’s each Sunday morning. Anyone needing a ride simply needs to call 24 hours in advance to schedule door-to-door service.
Chris Scott is a new driver, but already enjoys meeting the people.
“I’ve learned all the routes, and I’m enjoying getting to know the people,” he says.
Tim Thoma has been driving for two years and says there’s a great diversity of people taking advantage of DART.
“I run the college route so I see a lot of different kids. Getting a ride across campus on a cold day is great,” he says. “This a great, economical way to travel.”
For Weldon, it’s good to know that the rides make a difference for people.
“Everyone who uses us has a real need for transportation, and that’s the most satisfying and enjoyable part of it,” he says.
For information on routes or to catch a ride, call (515) 573-8145.
Contact Darren at 515-953-4822 ext. 304 or email@example.com to recommend someone for an upcoming issue of “What’s In Your Garage?”