Living across the street from Frederick Health Hospital, JoAnn Coates-Hunter has watched recently released patients wait at the bus stop in all kinds of weather.

She said they stand, some of them in casts, in the heat and cold while they wait for the bus to take them from West 7th Street to their homes. There’s no bench or physical structure to give them cover, she said.

“I’ve seen so many people who get out of the [ER] ... standing there in the rain and snow,” Coates-Hunter said. Sometimes, she offers them rides.

Gaps in public transportation like this prompted Coates-Hunter and others to visit the Prosperity Center on North Market Street Monday to discuss possible solutions. The community forum came about through the Ausherman Family Foundation forming a group with local leaders to focus on transportation issues, according to Aje Hill, executive director of local nonprofit I Believe in Me, one of the groups partnering with the foundation. Hill facilitated Monday’s forum.

“We’re looking for solutions, we’re not looking for more problems,” Hill said.

Hill said their goal has been to identify shortcomings in transportation, ways to fix them and to get feedback from the community, in part through a survey that drew nearly 1,200 participants. Distributed online during the last two weeks of October, the survey found most respondents in the community, 748, rely on their own vehicles for transportation, while 195 said they use TransIT, the public transportation service. Other modes of transportation respondents cited using included bicycles, scooters, rideshare services, cabs, rides from organizations and carpooling.

Fifty-two percent of respondents said they believe Frederick County offers a lot of transportation choices, while 30 percent disagreed.

Kimba Green, who serves on the board of directors for On Our Own of Frederick County, said people engaging in their recovery and wellness services are struggling with transportation. Many can’t afford rideshare services, she said, and clients with disabilities sometimes schedule a pickup only for the bus to never come. Some people are calling ambulances just to get to doctors’ appointments because Medicaid will cover it, Green said.

Hill shared he’s met single mothers and families whose vehicles were repossessed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have mothers that perhaps don’t have a ride to work, and that’s why they’re sitting at home,” he told the group.

Hill said if he had to rely on the bus to take him from his home in Farmbrook to downtown Frederick for work, he’d be fired.

Survey respondents were asked to rank proposed solutions, and 69 percent favored free or low-cost rideshare or cab services. Conversely, community members Monday discussed the lack of trust some older adults have in services like Uber or Lyft, or their inability to use a smart phone to summon them. There was talk of advertising transportation services through local TV commercials or radio to reach senior audiences. Others raised concerns over difficulty reading the small print of the bus schedule or struggling to read English in general.

“We have to walk people back into life rather than run,” Hill said. “This is one of the many steps.”

Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller

(6) comments

gary4books

Doctor Menocal and his practice are doing what they can to provide a limited shuttle to get people to medical care. perhaps the City could support this with more funds and extend its service. Certainly we need it. When I fell and went to the ER I took a cab home, but the driver could not even process my credit card. I could have been in trouble if I did not have the cash. We can do better in Frederick.

Comment deleted.
gabrielshorn2013

C'mon AOC. Mr. Hill is doing some really needed work with at-risk kids, and is doing a great job.

Comment deleted.
Dwasserba

What! 😵‍💫🤦‍♀️

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