Sun Metro's move to get rid of free route impacts people at Opportunity Center

Sun Metro

Sun Metro bus Route 4 means a whole lot to Deidre McArthur and others at the Opportunity Center for the Homeless.

"We depend on the buses," McArthur said. "A lot of us don't have an income, including me, and resources for bus tokens or taxi vouchers are limited with the budget here."

But Sun Metro has decided to charge for a route that was previously free. CBS4 Problem Solvers asked the city how -- and more importantly, why -- the change was made.

The city tells CBS4 the streetcar now services the area where Route 4 and Route 9 -- which was also free -- were located. Due to this new service, Route 9 was discontinued and Route 4 was expanded to the Sunset Heights neighborhood. The expanded route is what led the city to add the fare.

"I felt like, you've got to be kidding me. You have got to be kidding. That bus was free for how long?" McArthur said. "We can't afford a soda from the soda machine let alone a $1.50 for the bus."

CBS4 Problem Solvers went to find out from the deputy director of the center to find out what can be done to help those who live there. He tell us there's a solution -- for now.

"We have a wonderful young lady that works with us here that has started a small fund that we can buy bus tokens or bus passes,” John Martin, the deputy director, said. “But that's really a short-term solution."

Martin tells CBS4 that a long-term goal is still unknown. The city told CBS4 there has been a meeting between the Sun Metro and the center to create a program where those who live at the center can get vouchers to ride the Route 4 bus. The plans are still in the preliminary stages.

The Opportunity Center's goal is to get people like McArthur back on their feet. This fare is a major hurdle for that goal.

"The closer you get to that goal; the more things you have to do, like different appointments,” McArthur said. “And it's very important to keep appointments. If you don't, that's two steps back."

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