Grandmother says public transportation declined service because she's not an amputee or on dialysis

County commissioners looking into what happened
Posted at 11:15 PM, Jan 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-02 23:15:53-05

A 74-year-old Palmetto grandmother told ABC Action News she’s used the Handy Bus in Manatee County to get to and from doctor’s appointments for three years. A few weeks ago she said they told her she didn’t qualify.

“They said they couldn't pick me up any longer because I had to be missing a limb or going to dialysis,  neither of which I had,” Julie Ames said. “I said ‘are you crazy?’ I even put that on Facebook."

Handy Bus is a special para transit service that operates under Manatee County Area Transit. It costs $2 to go one way. You have to call in advance and schedule the ride. You also have to qualify for the program. Ames said she is disabled and has been using the service for several years.  

In September Ames said the service shut down for two months as new drivers were trained. Ames said when they re-opened and she called to schedule a ride she was told she did not qualify.

Ames said she’s had to cancel four doctor’s appointments in December because she had no way to get to them.

“They changed their policy, but they didn't inform me or anyone else,” Ames said.

Ames said she is  “angry, very angry” and wants to know what’s going on.

“I need some answers, because I figure, I am just as good as anybody else,” Ames said. “I don't think it's right. Why wouldn't they pick me up?”

We spoke to Manatee County Commissioner Charles Smith. He told us there have been a lot of changes with the Handy Bus service but getting denied service because Ames was not on dialysis or an amputee didn’t sound right to him.

Smith said he would look into Ames’ complaint first thing in the morning.

Ames hopes she gets some kind of response. She said she called the complaint line but never heard back from anyone.

“Just because I'm not missing a limb or going to dialysis doesn't mean they shouldn't pick me up,” Ames said.