BEDFORD, Va. – Starting next month, people living in Bedford will have better access to the resources they need. After years of brainstorming, the town is launching its first-ever public bus system.
Otter Bus will operate from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Transportation is something that can easily be taken for granted. However, it’s a major key to be able to access the resources needed to survive.
“We really see transportation as a community health issue,” Bedford Community Health Foundation Executive Director Denny Huff says.
It’s why Huff and his team are shifting into high gear to get the Otter Bus on the ground by Sept. 1.
He says every three years, the local hospital puts out a health survey. By far, transportation was identified as the community’s number one barrier to a healthy life.
“Whether its food from the grocery store, going to the doctor’s office, coming to the public library to access the internet, whatever the case may be,” Huff says. “Bedford has tremendous resources and we need to make sure the citizens of Bedford can have access to them.”
Those are the types of stops the bus will make in a one-hour loop around the town.
“We know this is just going to be the start of something big,” Bedford Director of Planning & Community Development Mary Zirkle says.
Zirkle says before the pandemic, they ran trials with a bus each Friday–something that’s been missed in the community since it went away.
“Just get on it, that’s the biggest thing,” Zirkle says. “We need to make sure people are going to use it so that it can become a permanent thing.”
After the first six months, the goal is to have the bus taking people around six times a week. It doesn’t cost anything to ride the Otter Bus yet.
It seats about 20 people and you will have to wear a mask.
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