Wimauma workers facing serious transportation problem, forcing some to walk miles to work

Non-profit has big idea to ease their problems
Posted at 5:57 PM, Jun 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-09 17:57:52-04

Could you get to work without a car? How about with no public transportation? That’s the reality for some local workers in Wimauma but help could be on the way.

Currently, there is just one Hart Flex Line that services Wimauma. The mini-bus goes to the Walmart off U.S. 301, in about a mile and a half loop before circling back to Walmart. This means, the rest of Wimauma's 25 square miles are left pulling miracles every day just to get to work.

Another option residents tell ABC Action News they can't really utilize is the Sunshine Line. It's a door-to-door transportation system for elderly, those with disabilities, and low-income families. The bus is primarily for medical appointments and aging services and reservations must be made no less than two days in advanced. 

The remaining possible transportation alternatives include two taxi/limo companies plus Uber and Lyft. Residents call these options too inflexible or expensive to depend on.

Marisela Hernandez is no stranger to walking. Her family has just one car and her husband uses it to get to work in the fruit fields. But when she can’t find a ride to get around, even taking her daughter to the school bus stop, a mile away, is a struggle.

“It’s a daily problem, you have to find a friend," she Hernandez. "If they can’t do it you have to find another. Sometimes you’re close to getting fired because you are missing too much work.”

Unfortunately many others like her are forced to walk to get to the groves. The Hispanic Services Council calls transportation the second biggest concern for those in Wimauma, behind affordable housing. 

However, non-profit Enterprising Latinas has a big idea.They want to buy three mini-buses, to service all of Wimauma at just $1.75 a ride. Their idea extends to hiring drivers from Wimauma, both saving money for workers and hiring those without a job.

“We believe that if we can solve the transportation issue, we can unlock the economic potential for families in this community," said founder Elizabeth Gutierrez.

Their business proposal for Arriba Transportation is now a finalist in the $50,000 Big Idea Award from Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.

Marisela at the mercy of others right now. She's accustomed to paying a much as $100 to get to Tampa, but looking to her future there's nothing but hope.

Enterprising Latinas plans to raise $100,000 before getting the buses out on the roads.