May 3, 2006--Posted at 5:15 p.m. CDT
"Thumbs up, high fives. Believe it or not this is that big of an ordeal here in town. People were flat out excited about what was going on today. I really enjoyed seeing it today. It's good to see the fruits of our labor as a staff affect the public so well," said JETS Transportation Coordinator Joel Gardner.
The JETS program will kick off Thursday, and normally run Monday through Friday 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Saturdays, the service will run from 8 to 8. Even more exciting news for the month of May, it will be free to ride any of the JETS buses.
The brand new JETS program will open a world of mobility to some citizens. Sometimes we don't appreciate the privilege of transportation until it is taken away.
"I called it my 'run away, clear my head time'. I can't run away anymore, someone has to take me, and when they do that you don't run," said Brenda Ward.
Brenda Ward was diagnosed with systemic lupus in 1991, a disease that took her out of the work force, and damaged her eyesight to the point where she had to beg for rides from friends and family to get where she needed to go.
"My mom is going to be 80 this year. She is not going to be able to drive me every day," said Ward.
"I now want to work every day. I want to be dependable. I want to know that I can get there and get home," said Ward.
Brenda works for Congressman Marion Berry's office and helps deal with social security issues. For a woman who has spent the last 15 years fighting for public transportation her bus has finally arrived.
"You just can not appreciate how monumental this whole thing is. It is like I have a sense of independence again, I don't have to beg and borrow," said Ward.
Starting Thursday, Brenda's mother will continue to drive her to work each day, but now she knows how she is going to get home... on the Jonesboro Economical Transit System.
"This is one of those miracles for me, it is just a miracle," said Ward.