If you have lived in Franklin County very long you know that there is no "public" transportation system. If you need transportation to a doctor's appointment or the grocery store, there just isn't much out there - except two agencies who have been working hard for many years to provide transportation services to people in Franklin County who are transportation disadvantaged.
OATS, Inc. was founded in 1971 by a group of seniors who saw a need for transportation, especially in rural areas, and Franklin County Transportation Council (FCTC) was formed in early 1988 to provide and coordinate transportation in communities throughout Franklin County. In September of 1994, FCTC entered into a management agreement with OATS, Inc. Even though they are two separate agencies, the two companies work very closely with each other to coordinate transportation services to the residents of Franklin County. They even share the same building in Union.
Contrary to the early years, OATS no longer stands for "Older Adults Transportation Service." OATS, Inc. and FCTC are public transportation systems that are available to everyone regardless of age, race, gender, religion, or national origin, and, in fact, serve a wide diversity of clientele. They transport elderly and disabled people from their homes to various Franklin County service providers including Rainbow Activity Center in Union and Empac Group in both Washington and Sullivan. They also deliver folks to doctor appointments, the senior centers, and grocery stores - at no charge. Donations from riders are welcome and appreciated, but there is no set fee to ride the FCTC or OATS buses.
Both agencies are not-for-profit corporations who receive funding from a variety of sources including United Way. Funding from Franklin County Area United Way enables them to keep their buses in good working condition, purchase new buses when needed, and provide additional "trips" so the buses are used to their fullest capacity. FCTC currently has a fleet of 22 vehicles. Eighteen vans run daily routes with the others being used for backup. Nineteen vehicles are equipped with wheelchair lifts. There are 11 OATS buses and one car also running on daily routes throughout the county.
Last year OATS, Inc. and Franklin County Transportation Council asked FCAUW for a special one-time dispensation to use United Way funding to build out the insides of a larger building. They recently moved into their new digs at 247 Independence Drive in Union and are thrilled to have so much room. "We love the new building," says Pat Stanley, Area Manager. "I jumped for joy the day I received approval from United Way! We went from 1,200 square feet to 4,000. We have breathing room now which we didn't have before! Drivers are able to sit at tables during trainings rather than being crammed shoulder to shoulder in chairs."
The mission of OATS, Inc. and FCTC is "to provide reliable transportation for transportation disadvantaged Missourians so they can live independently in their own communities." Providing funding to OATS and FCTC is one more way United Way is improving lives in Franklin County.
"We are extremely thankful for United Way's support of our mission. Without funding from United Way we wouldn't be able to reach as many transportation disadvantaged people."
--Pat Houston, Operations Coordinator, OATS, Inc