At a time when a debate is under way concerning private vs. public transportation resources in Mount Airy, word has emerged regarding a third alternative.
It involves plans by Jason Parker to open Mount Airy Transportation Service later this month.
The city already has two privately owned cab companies that charge regular commercial rates, and Yadkin Valley Economic Development District Inc. (YVEDDI) is proposing to offer a shuttle-type service at $1 per trip — sudsidized with government funding.
But Parker’s operation appears to be combining both: low-cost transportation provided by a business.
“This is a private company,” Parker, 37, emphasized Wednesday while outlining plans for the service. “This is a private for-hire company — we’re not looking for city and county government funding.”
Parker has bought a 28-passenger bus that can accommodate persons in wheelchairs, which will have a designated route within the city limits. The cost will be $1.50 per person, with 10-ride or monthly passes to be offered at a reduced rate along with special prices for groups such as senior citizens.
“My goal is to have it up and running no later than the 15th (of August),” Parker said of the business. The owner reported that he already has gotten the OK from the city government and police department and now is making final preparations, including completing work on the bus and a company website.
Meanwhile, the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners is scheduled to make a decision concerning the transportation program proposed by YVEDDI during a meeting this afternoon. Although YVEDDI operates separately from the city, the commissioners are being asked to provide a much-needed endorsement for a grant request from that agency to the N.C. Department of Transportation which it would use to provide a “circulator” service here.
Taxi owners say they could not compete under such a scenario, while a YVEDDI official has said its bus rides to key destinations such as shopping centers would be geared toward people who don’t use cabs due to the cost.
Planned For Months
Parker said Wednesday that plans for his Mount Airy Transportation Service were hatched long before the debate began.
“Actually, I have been planning it for roughly the last year and a half,” he said of a business that looks to fill a void locally. “It’s a service that I have noticed is needed in the city of Mount Airy.”
Parker added, “I’ve grown up in this area, I’ve lived here all my life — it’s just something I’ve noticed.”
Larger cities tend to have a public transit system of some kind — buses or subways — and while Mount Airy is not in that category, Parker believes more is needed than what presently is being offered.
His transportation background includes driving a truck and limousine, along with nine years of military truck-driving experience.
Parker is launching the company with the help of his wife Shannon, who is its co-owner. “She’s been the brains behind much of this,” he said.
It is not known how many routes the new service will have. “I’m going to start relatively small right now on a limited schedule,” Parker said.
He added that prospective riders should watch for the emergence of the company’s website, at mtairytrans.com, which will contain information about the route, schedules and other details of the new service.
While it will offer transportation at low rates, not subsidized by the government, Parker said the difference should be made up by the high volume of ridership anticipated.
“I feel I’m going to make a go of it,” he said of the business. “This is something I’ve wanted to do.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.