For most adults, easy access to transportation means the process of getting to and from work, daily errands, and medical appointments is not given much thought. However, for the elderly, disabled, or those in need for a variety of reasons, wondering how they will get to the grocery store, doctor, or work is a legitimate concern.
Enter OATS Transit, serving 87 counties in Missouri, including Jackson County. OATS mission is enhancing the quality of life by providing safe, caring, and reliable transportation services. The company celebrated its first anniversary in Grain Valley this June.
OATS provides a variety of services in the communities they serve, including deviated-fixed routes, medical and dialysis transportation, disability programs, intercity express routes, rural general public transport, senior transportation, and transportation for veterans hospitals and clinics.
Chris Fox is an OATS Driver in eastern Jackson County. He’s a retired business office manager from AT&T who also served in the Air Force and worked on B-52 bombers during his career. Fox says that his current role with OATS is the most rewarding job he’s ever had.
“Being able to help folks is important. I come across many people in need who are seeking transportation. Without OATS, I’m not certain what the quality of life would be like for those people. Many don’t have family support or a network of friends to get them where they need to be. This service provides independence for the handicapped or those who don’t have reliable transportation,” Fox said.
Fox is consistent in greeting everyone with a “good morning” and a smile in those he encounters on his route. Equally as important to him is that everyone is buckled up and that no one has stress about their wheelchair or personal support scooters having to be secured. Fox’s three years of experience as an OATS driver is apparent in the way he navigates the back of the bus with the hydraulic lift and assuring things are locked in place.
Riding the OATS bus in Grain Valley compared to the neighboring communities of Lee’s Summit and Blue Springs is a bargain.
“I drive in all three communities. In Lee’s Summit it’s a $1.50 a trip. Blue Springs is $3.00 a trip. Grain Valley is only $1.00 at trip and that’s due to Grain Valley being very generous in its subsidy of the program. That works out well for the residents of this community who need affordable transportation support,” Fox said.
“Seeing people be able to get out and about and do things that are important to them makes them happy. The mobility that OATS Transit provides helps build community through keeping people socially active and contributing to the economy.”
Cheri is a retired nurse who resides in eastern Jackson County. She prefers to use the OATS service instead of taking a taxi due to the storage that may be provided on the OATS bus for her personal support scooter. Cheri was one of three passengers on the Grain Valley OATS bus making its rounds on a weekday during the first week of October.
“I try to book my trips a week ahead. The staff is nice and always patient with me. I don’t have to memorize new routes to the places I travel or deal with road construction,” Cheri said.
“As you get older and your driving privileges are restricted or taken away due to cataracts or medical concerns, having a service like this is a necessity. My stress is reduced because this is a part of my life.”
OATS provides door to door service from residence to destination. Those interested in using the OATS bus service may contact the local office at 816-380-7433. It is recommended that a phone call is placed the day before a trip is needed. How to ride an OATS bus as well as other frequently asked questions may be answered by visiting https://www.oatstransit.org/ride
“Seeing people be able to get out and about and do things that are important to them makes them happy. The mobility that OATS Transit provides helps build community through keeping people socially active and contributing to the economy,” Chris Fox, OATS bus driver in eastern Jackson County.
Photo credit: Valley News staff