Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JTA Minibus Expected to Be a Boon to Mandarin; Ride Request Service Should Be Running by Early 2006

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JTA Minibus Expected to Be a Boon to Mandarin; Ride Request Service Should Be Running by Early 2006

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN SCANLAN

Mandarin's senior citizens will soon be able to catch a special JTA minibus that will pick them up at home and take them to stores, libraries and the central bus transfer stop at San Jose Boulevard and Marbon Road.

The legislation laying out the $60,000 needed to buy the 12- to 15-passenger minibus was unanimously approved by two City Council committees last week, and was expected to pass at the full council meeting Tuesday. Combined with state and local grants to operate and market it, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority hopes to have the Ride Request minibus running by early next year.

The Ride Request service will compliment another one that primarily takes Mandarin residents to and from office parks in the community's south end. But after two years of work to get it started, City Councilwoman Sharon Copeland said it will really help those who don't have access to area businesses.

"We have a high concentration of seniors, with the Mandarin Senior Center as a nucleus. But it is not just for seniors; anyone can use it," Copeland said. "It is somewhat of a hybrid. It will make a loop and give you an opportunity to stop at numerous shops and doctors' offices, and tie into the other ride program, which can take you to Baptist South."

The minibus will also offer curb-to-curb service from the Mandarin Senior Center at 3848 Hartley Road to area stores, libraries and medical complexes, a boon to its hundreds of clients, said advisory board president Frances Bosman.

"It is wonderful. The gang from the center asks me every week when it is going to happen," she said. "It's not just seniors, but anyone living here can hop on a bus and do their chores. Most of the bus service here goes downtown, and lot of what they need is here and not downtown. It will just meet their needs and give them a lot more freedom to enjoy themselves."

The JTA has operated a pilot Ride Request Van Service in the southern part of Mandarin for the past 10 months. People who need a ride in a service area that includes Hood Landing Road, St. Augustine Road, San Jose Boulevard, Julington Creek and the businesses between Philips Highway and Interstate 95 can call up to a day in advance for pickup at their home between 6 a. …

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