OSKALOOSA— The Oskaloosa bus is giving free rides to 15 different locations in Oskaloosa on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
This is a vital system ran by the town to help everyone get around this summer.
Timothy Gibson, the executive director at United Way said “Oskaloosa Rides helps the community because it allows anybody in the city of Oskaloosa on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays to have access to transportation."
"[That] is something that is a huge barrier for people in need, for elderly people, and sometimes for babysitters whenever they want to take kids to the pool or to the Y where they don’t have to pay to get from point A to point B," he said. "It's super beneficial for anybody who needs groceries or anything or any service."
There is only one bus and the bus drivers name is Dale.
“He's pretty great, he's always on time," Gibson said. "If you don't make it exactly to the bus, you can just give him a wave and he'll pick you up so he's pretty cool.”
The Oskaloosa bus is popular and gives around 100 to 150 rides per day. The bus stops at each location about once every hour.
The free ride program cost about $10,000 to operate every year. It is written into the city planning budget.
Gibson, said, “We're very thankful that the city decided to take that on."
"When it first came to town it was, everybody had to pay," he said. "You had to buy a bus ticket or a monthly pass and the city saw how highly it was used so they went ahead and said, we're just gonna write this into our budget and make it free for everybody.”
Gibson believes public transportation is important because “for a lot of people in town that you might see walking around or riding their bike or anything like that, that might be their only transportation but when winter hits or whenever it gets super hot outside and its unsafe for them to be able to transport themselves in whichever way they choose, this gives them a really good opportunity to be able to go support whatever needs that they have.”
The bus stops are located at many of the most needed places here in town. Some include grocery stores, like Hy-Vee and Walmart, all the schools in town, the YMCA, Mahaska Health Partnership, Oskaloosa Public Library, Edmundson Park, and many apartments around Oskaloosa.
“Summer is a time for fun and friends, and the city buses are a safe way for children to get to the places they need,” said Julie Hyland, a staff member at United Way of Mahaska County. “It's even great for older people who cannot drive anymore, helping them get out every once and while.”
“There are so many great opportunities that Oskaloosa Rides has brought to our town. We have bus schedules available at our office and we are happy to help you figure out how to get to your destination,” Gibson said.