Every City Council town hall meeting begins with speakers who have signed up to speak about SCAT, the paratransit service of the Greensboro Transit Agency (GTA).
The SCAT riders are allowed to speak first so they can catch a SCAT bus home. The complaints are usually what you would expect of a transit service: the waits are too long, the rides are too long, unfriendly drivers, missed pickups and the like.
However, on Tuesday, Jan. 7, the riders had a complaint that didn’t fit in that category. GTA, with limited public notice, had ended a pilot program, I-Ride, which provided those eligible for SCAT service with an Uber type transportation service.
One of the complaints often voiced about SCAT is the rides are too long; what would take 10 minutes in a car takes an hour in a SCAT bus because it is a shared ride service, which mean riders have to wait for other riders to be picked up and dropped off.
I-Ride provided door-to-door service for a single rider. SCAT costs $1.50 a ride and I-Ride was $6 a ride, which is considerably more expensive but even that didn’t come close to covering the cost of the ride.
GTA received a grant of $100,000 and started the service in January 2019. It was supposed to run through June, but because there was still money available in June the program continued and became much more popular.
In October the City Council allocated $55,000 to continue the program through Dec. 31 and it did.
However, there was no Greensboro news release in December about the program ending at the end of the month and it wasn’t even on the GTA news site. However, if you clicked on I-Ride there was a notice that said the program was ending on Dec. 31.
It was a pilot program, but often pilot programs turn into permanent programs if they are popular. I-Ride was popular but also expensive.
The money ran out and the program ended, but several speakers said they weren’t aware the program was ending until they called to schedule a ride.