MARIETTA, Ga. — The pandemic and supply chain crisis that followed crippled the Cobb County CobbLinc Paratransit system for thousands of disabled and elderly residents who depend on public transit.
Only five of the 30 vehicles used for the service were operational, and the Paratransit system almost came to a grinding halt. Last May, when we first visited CobbLinc, most of the fleet stood idle in the parking lot.
Vehicles broken down, and up to a two-year wait for parts due to COVID and serious staffing shortages.
And with that came chaos for Cobb residents who rely on those vehicles to get to doctor appointments or to go grocery shopping. But now, CobbLinc Paratransit Director Theo Letman said they had a dramatic turnaround.
“We are now back to a full cadre of vehicles," he said. "We have 22 vehicles now, so now we have more service being provided with 97% on-time performance."
And the added vehicles also mean Cobb is expanding its services to what it calls an on-demand Flex Service with reservations to more parts of the county.
For residents who rely on CobbLinc for necessary trips, getting back to a new normal is critical, and we met up with one of them.
For Marilyn Burnsed and her neighbors in Marietta, it has been a year and a half of trying to get CobbLinc to take them to a larger supermarket with aisles wide enough to accommodate their walkers without having to get out of the way. When we heard about it, we got right on it.
After meeting with Theo Letman at CobbLinc, we sat down with Ms. Burnsed to give her the good news.
“What if we were to tell you that it has been worked out that you are going to be able to get on Paratransit here (her residence in Marietta), take it over to Austell Road where there is a covered bus stop and you'll be taken after a year and half of your trying (via Flex-CobbLinc) to get to the larger Publix or Kroger right were you want to go at Powder Springs and Macland,” we said
And Ms. Burnsed excitedly replied:
“Oh…really? Wonderful. We are so happy. We’ve been working on this, and we've been patient, and patience does pay off,” she said.
Our next goal is to ensure that the plan to get to the larger supermarket using Paratransit and Cobb Flex works well.