VERNON COUNTY, Mo. — Many people face transportation barriers when it comes to daily commutes and one Missouri agency is trying help.

Kelly Ast says that transportation has always been a problem, but covid-19 has really brought it to light. While these barriers do impact people within the Nevada city limits, the primary focus is on those in rural Vernon County.

Randy Marti – Administrative Services Director, said, “The city is operated a public transportation program for several years called a fair share program. And what it does is provide rides for people with transportation needs here in the city of Nevada.”

While the city has been doing well in offering transportation to people in need, Community Service Director for West Central Missouri Community Action Agency Kelly Ast says the current services in all rural areas in West Central Missouri are at capacity

Kelly Ast – West Central Missouri Community Action Agency, Community Services Director, said, “Our commitment to transportation is to improve the quality of life of our residents by giving them access, especially to medical care, to social services, to banking options as well as retail options in rural communities.”

There are approximately 22,000 residents in Vernon County. 8,500 of which live in Nevada. Partnered with the Missouri Rural Health Association, The new Health Tran program with the will help those in rural areas and provide services during the night and weekends.

“We’ve been working with the city of Nevada, and while they’re focusing on providing public transit to city residents, then through our regional mobility coordination through West Central, we then are coordinating rides to those county residents that would often times have no option for public transportation.”

Even Dr. Larry Seals of Nevada Regional Medical Center says they have patients who have walked to their appointments.

Dr. Larry Seals – Nevada Regional Medical Center, said, “Since I’ve been here, we’ve had a patient that would walk to her appointments, so with this new transportation, which I guess it wasn’t available for her at that time, this will help her out a lot, and I’m sure there’s other patients like her.”

All the drivers in this new program are volunteers and receive background checks before being approved. Ast says that they’re excited about this opportunity to work with Nevada and they hope to continue working with more counties and cities.