Escambia County

Disabled rider gives commissioners plan to save ECAT

March 8, 2018

Last May, Escambia County Commissioner Doug Underhill stated that Escambia County Area Transit wasn’t financially viable and he wanted his fellow commissioners to consider discontinuing the service.

Nicole Wilson, former chairman of the Mass Transit Advisory Committee who has been  disabled since birth and in a wheelchair most of her life, refused to stay on the sidelines. She spent six months developing a plan to save what she believes is a vital public service.

“I figured if things go a way I don’t like, and I didn’t offer any kind of potential solutions, then I have no room to complain about it,” she told Inweekly yesterday.

“If routes are disconnected, or they’re discontinued, or the service is discontinued entirely, I have no room to complain if I didn’t try to present something, an alternative to that.”

Wilson depends on ECAT and talked about her fellow riders.

“I know a lot of people that ride the bus. You hear their stories, and you hear them talk, and you know their situations. You know that this one’s trying to go to work, this one’s trying to go to school, and that’s their only bus. I mean their only transport.”

Wilson’s plan has five elements:

  • Simply routes
  • Leverage route frequency
  • Simply fare schedule
  • Use size-appropriate buses based on ridership
  • Restructure the workforce

Wilson admitted that she’s nervous about appearing before the board if  asked to present her plan at meeting.

She said, “They each have it, but I don’t know if I have the wherewithal to withstand the questioning and the argument and debate that would come after that with a room full of people, and knowing that it’s on camera.”

However, she hopes the commissioners will take her seriously.

Read Citizen Proposal

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  • Reply morphus March 9, 2018 at 5:37 am

    Great job Ms. Wilson! Wilson’s proposal is very detail and well thought out. Hope the community put pressure on the BCC to implement this plan.

    We really need an online public available local government economic dashboard to follow the money, I’m always strongly suspicious when budgetary arguments rely on the use of the old saw comparing government services and profits.

    Businesses and governments are distinct and their obligations are different. EVERY public servant should understand that the “business” of government is SERVICE. Providing service is not based on a profit model. Governments seeking to make “profits” only can accomplish this by overtaxing their citizens and they disguise their money wasting habits.

  • Reply Jami Sanderson March 8, 2018 at 11:17 am

    I have only skimmed over the report but KUDOS to Ms. Wilson for her efforts! I’ll dig into it a little later but the Commission should take this report seriously.

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