MCTA touts veterans service
BAKERSVILLE – The Mitchell County Transportation Authority is working to raise awareness about its low-cost veterans transportation service.
Mitchell County Transportation Authority Director Sheila Blalock said the veteran transportation is underutilized and with Memorial Day approaching, she wants area veterans to be aware MCTA offers transportation to veterans to any of their appointments for $15. The cost includes a guest.
“I don’t think people realize what we do,” Blalock said. “I think a lot of people see our vans and think they’re only for specific people. Anyone can ride. It’s public transportation.”
Blalock said if the $15 charge is a hardship for a veteran, there are ways MCTA can work with them.
“My dad was a veteran, and so was my brother,” Blalock said. “I’m not going to let any veteran go without transportation simply because they don’t have money. That’s not happening.”
MCTA can’t enter the home of a veteran to get them ready or assist them with other in-home duties, which is why MCTA is happy to include guests in the total cost.
“We’re just glad they have someone going with them,” Blalock said.
Blalock added her drivers love assisting the veterans and will often go out of their way to ensure they’re dropped off promptly at the correct locations for their appointments.
“We will drive to Poplar for one veteran,” Blalock said. “I think veterans might not know we’re here, but we are here to help.”
In addition to veteran transportation, MCTA offers transportation for residents to get to work, go shopping, go to the pharmacy and go to in-county and out-of-county appointments. MCTA also provides transportation services to human service agencies including the Mitchell County Senior Center, Mitchell County Department of Social Services and local preschool centers.
Local veteran Michael Davis, who also serves on the MCTA board, said the MCTA employs a staff full of people with great respect for veterans. Davis added MCTA’s veteran transportation services were vital to him receiving health care he needed.
“I have ridden on those transportation busses a multitude of times,” Davis said. “I have seen so many of the people that ride on it, and I’ve learned why they ride on it. I have seen elderly, veterans and I’ve seen the wonderful way the employees treated these people.”
Davis said the staff at MCTA works a tough job with a constant smile.
“Transportation is not easy,” Davis said. “I’ve been on the board for years and I have watched the MCTA grow. I know these people. I’ve seen them bend over backward for people in this community and they did so for me when I had surgery.”