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Free bus service now available for islanders

May 8, 2019
By ED FRANKS (efranks@breezenewspapers.com) , Pine Island Eagle

The Beacon of HOPE has teamed with several other charitable organizations under the umbrella group Pine Island Cares to provide Pine Island's first bus service on and off the islands. They have named it Pine Island Transit.

The service started Monday, April 15, picking up passengers from Bokeelia to St. James City with stops in Matlacha. Regular routes have been established for Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

On Tuesdays the bus begin pick-ups at 10:30 a.m. at the Beacon of HOPE and head north on Stringfellow Road to El Pollo Rico on Avenue A. It then proceeds north on Stringfellow Road to the Bokeelia Fishing Pier, stopping along the way for anyone wanting a ride. The bus leaves the Bokeelia Fishing Pier at 11 a.m. headed south to Waterfront Restaurant in St James City and picking up people along the way.

Article Photos

Pine Island Transit's Big Orange Bus.

ED FRANKS

The bus leaves St. James City at 11:30 a.m, heading north to Pine Island Road and off the island, stopping for drop-offs and pick-ups in Matlacha. Off the island, stops can be made at Publix and Walgreen's, allowing an hour to shop before proceeding to the outdoor Farmer's Market at Veterans Parkway and Surfside Boulevard.

On Thursdays, the route is the same as Tuesday leaving at 10 a.m. until the bus leaves Publix. From there it goes to the Walmart Neighborhood Market, Kohl's, Dollar General and Office Depot. The bus parks for one hour before returning to Pine Island.

Saturday the bus leaves the Beacon at 8:30 a.m. to bring passengers to the Food Bank. The bus stops at all locations on Pine Island and will return passengers home after the Food Bank. At noon, it runs the same route as on Thursday, stopping at all three grocery stores (Winn-Dixie, Publix and Walmart Neighborhood Market) before returning home.

"Our goal is to provide everyone with transportation to and from grocery shopping, the food pantries, doctor appointments and the public library and parks," executive director Nancy Buthman said. "To further accommodate people, we will stop anywhere along the way for drop-offs or pick-ups: Winn-Dixie/CVS plaza, the library/swimming pool park, restaurants."

The bus is a used Ford E450 and a former transit bus obtained from a company in Pennsylvania. There are 10 seats and a wheelchair lift with plenty of room for wheelchairs.

"We can easily accommodate people with special needs," Buthman said. "We do need them to contact us so we can pick them up at their homes."

Thursday, Dr. Erica Oldham boarded the bus in Bokeelia. Dr. Oldham uses a wheelchair.

"I think this bus service is fantastic and it fills a void the island really needed," Oldham said. "Not only for the basis of transportation, but it also offers a great social opportunity for the community of Pine Island to get to know their fellow islanders and at the same time help support our island businesses."

Susan Matadobra was picked up on Pine Island Road in Matlacha.

"I always have to depend on friends or family to get me places," Matadobra said. "The bus can stop at Dollar Tree, Kohl's Walmart and any of the places I need to go. This bus service is a life saver."

"Our goal is to remove the barriers to a better life in whatever way we can. We believe this service will make a significant difference for our residents," Buthman said.

"Special needs residents should call our Pine Island Transit phone number (239-558-8060) between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon (Monday Saturday) to provide information that will allow us to pick up riders at their homes. All of us believe very strongly that providing transportation to our community is critical to improving our quality of living."

 
 

 

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