JET Helps People Get Around

By Jessica Ladd
Delta Digital News Service

JONESBORO — A Jonesboro transit service changed public transportation, one trip at a time. Jonesboro Economical Transit offers fixed routes and paratransit service.

Fixed routes, the set routes the buses travel every day, now cover the entire incorporated city limits of Jonesboro. The buses operate Monday-Friday 5:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. JET buses do not run on Sunday.

“Mr. Dave” drives a bus for JET. He’s been with the company for 12 years. He said JET is a service people need.

“They (JET) take people to work every day. They rely on JET every day. You see the same people every day,” Dave said.

He said JET is an important service and people are grateful for it. Transit Director Michael Black said about 4,000 people ride the fixed routes every week.

Shantara Gilliam and Louis Crawford think highly of JET. The two are repeat users of the service. Gilliam and Crawford said so far they’ve had good service. Both plan to continue riding with the transit organization.

Gilliam does not own a car and said, “I used to use my sister’s car and my mom’s.”

Now she can use public transportation to get where she needs to be. She said JET makes getting around easier. Crawford said he likes JET’s service because it’s cheap.  They offer the lowest fare in the city. It cost $1.25 per way or $2.50 per trip. Students and senior citizens can ride at cheaper rates.

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A sign posted inside a JET bus explains the bus rates. (photo by Jessica Ladd)

A 10-year transit study conducted by JET shows only 44 percent of citizens drive. Thirty-eight percent ride the bus daily. Twenty-eight percent of riders are going to and from work. Twenty-five percent ride the bus for medical purposes.

The study also found 25 percent of JET users suffer from a disability. JET’s paratransit service makes 70-85 trips a week. Black calls paratransit “a door-to-door service.” Those with a severe disability can arrange to be picked up at their home.  The disability can be permanent or temporary.

The application comes in two parts. The first part is to be filled out by the client. The second part will be filled out by a primary caregiver, such as a physician. The application is sent back to JET for review. Once approved, the client must call to set up a pickup time the day before the pickup date. If a client needs to be picked up on Tuesday they must call Monday by 5 p.m. to set up a time for pickup.  Black said there are nine individuals who use the service to get to dialysis appointments.

Black started working in transit in 2008. He became transit director in 2016. He said he’s worked hard to extend JET’s fixed routes and hours of operation. He pushed for bus routes on Saturdays and two years ago, he opened the incorporated city limits of Jonesboro up to JET. He continues to work to make JET a better service. Black said he loves his job.

“It’s different every day. We’re helping people,” he said.

Black said in the near future he would like to change the Saturday routes. Currently, three buses run on Saturdays. Black wants to have five buses driving the routes, like Monday-Friday. Saturday hours will remain the same.  He also said there are no plans for a Sunday route.

(NOTE: Featured photo shows Michael Black and members of the Advisory Board during a meeting. Photo by Jessica Ladd)

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