JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Marc Gross, 70, depended on Clay Transit three days a week. In December he called to check on his bus service and received an unexpected response.
"They said 'There won't be a ride, we went bankrupt,'" said Gross. "I was like, 'What you mean?'"
Gross struggles daily with a number of health issues, including Lewy Body Dementia. He is unable to drive, so he takes the bus to his therapy.
"It was such a plus for me dealing with these diagnoses," he said.
He said the trips were not only therapeutic. They also gave him a sense of purpose.
"It got me out of the house. It put me in a place where I can be sociable," he said. "It prevented me from being housebound."
The retired social worker is stunned to learn Clay County Council on Aging is out of business and its contracts to provide services canceled.
Aging True, another nonprofit, has been hired to manage the senior centers and the meal sites.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority has been given the contract to operate the Transportation Disadvantaged program.
A day ago, the county posted on its Facebook page the county commission had approved a contract with the Jacksonville Transportation Authority.
The JTA provided this statement:
“After the Council on Aging in Clay County ceased operations on December 31, JTA’s contractor began providing critical paratransit services for the Transportation Disadvantaged (TD) community in Clay County to ensure that Clay County TD customers continue to receive medical and life-sustaining transportation. Currently, approximately 110 TD trips are provided each day in Clay County. JTA is discussing with Clay County officials the possibility of adding other transportation services such as Flex Routes and senior services previously provided by the Clay County Council on Aging. JTA will continue to partner with Clay County to improve the quality of life by providing safe, reliable, efficient and sustainable multimodal transportation services and facilities.”
Gross said he won't have peace of mind until the transportation service is restored in full.
"The peace of mind knowing Monday, Wednesday and Friday I've got something to do," he said.