Transportation is vital for community stability and growth, but most people don’t usually think about public transportation especially if they own a vehicle and can drive it. The hard fact is that some of us and the elderly can’t drive and/or can’t afford a vehicle and want to live independently, so we rely on public transportation or para-transportation to go places. Here in Jackson we are very fortunate to have the Jackson Area Transportation Authority (JATA) which provides both public and para-transportation.
The difference between them is with public transportation. JATA’s vehicles are on a set schedule and can only be accessed at a designated bus stop or the downtown transfer center. Another thing people need to be aware of is that public transportation buses are restricted to stops within the city with few exceptions. That’s why most people call them city buses. The Para-Transit system is for a person with limitations (ADA eligible) and can’t make it to a bus stop. The person would need to have a medical professional certify that they have a disability using a form available through JATA. Once approved the person may call JATA’s dispatch center and arrange transportation through the dispatch center at 517-788-8410. You must call at least 24 hours in advance but, if you live in the city of Jackson you can schedule a ride 2 weeks in advance. If you live outside of the city 24 hours in advance is the maximum time allowed. JATA’s main number is 517-787-8363. At your request, they will send you a bus schedule which shows where the city buses are scheduled to arrive and when. You can also get a brochure telling about the programs JATA has available. Para-Transportation, on the other hand, works on a demand response, which means that, once approved, you can schedule a ride door to door from your home to the location you need to reach. All JATA vehicles are equipped for wheelchair users including the public transportation buses.
Para-Transit vehicles are not restricted to the city but can go anywhere within Jackson County as long as you live in the city. If you happen to live more than ¾ miles outside the city Para-Transit still will pick you up but they only do pickups 3 days a week whereas city residents can get a pickup 7 days a week, depending on what day and time you need. For information on fares, schedules or general information call the main number for JATA, for compliments or complaints call 517-780-3775.
Here are some of the main things you should know about the transportation service available here in Jackson.
- 1. Main number for JATA is 517-787-8363. When calling this number you can request:
A. General information about services they offer
B. Schedules and Brochures, etc.
- 2. Para-Transit’s number or Reserve-A-Ride as they call it is 517-788-8410. When calling this number you can schedule a ride, they will tell you what the fare will be as well.
- 3. The number for compliments or complaints is 517-780-3775. When calling this number you can tell them how great there service was to you or what went wrong.
Now it’s time to reveal myself. My name is James Cyphers and a person with a disability. I deal with the effects of Post-Polio and am a wheelchair user. I work part-time at disAbility Connections as an Independent Living Specialist. I’ve worked as an advocate for people with disabilities for approximately 18 years and I have been a board member for JATA for about 12 years, that’s how I know this stuff about JATA plus I’ve been riding JATA’s buses for almost 40 years. I’ll end here, but I have much more to say so stay tuned! And I’d like to hear from you as well.