Two more MARS buses benefit residents with transportation

MADISON – Two additional buses have increased flexibility in scheduling for Madison Assisted Ride System or MARS.

“One of the buses was funded and purchased by our County Commissioner Steve Haraway, who continues to be a great teammate for our community,” Levoneia Ayers said. Ayers works as Active Adults Program Coordinator with City of Madison Parks & Recreation Department.

MARS is available to residents who live within the Madison City Limits and are eligible for paratransit services under ADA guidelines. (‘Paratransit’ refers to a vehicle that individuals use for public transit because of health conditions).

Elise Kirkland, who serves as MARS Administrator, said the transportation is important to clients, because many do not have relatives, friends or a caregiver to offer a means of transportation. “This is a definite asset to working parents and/or caregivers to make sure your family member gets to their destination and returns home safely.”

“Currently, clients are transported to medical appointments, dialysis, radiology, pharmacy, work and cancer center, among other destinations. Many clients have been with the MARS program since the beginning,” Kirkland said. In the future, Kirkland hopes the current transportation program expands and eventually offers mass public transit for all Madison citizens.

A MARS passenger must submit an application and include physician information and signature for approval to the MARS Coordinator at Dublin Park. For eligibility, the individual must have an impairment that prevents or limits ability to drive a motor vehicle. Applications may be mailed, faxed or delivered to Dublin Park, 8324 Old Madison Pike, Madison AL 35758.

After the application is approved, the individual must buy tickets at Dublin Park (or call 256-772-9300) during office hours. Tickets are $2 per trip (or boarding of the bus). The City of Huntsville Public Transportation Dispatching Center furnishes scheduling. After buying tickets, the individual can schedule trips by contacting the Dispatch Center at 256-427-6857.

One escort per rider is allowed on the bus at no charge.

Passengers should be ready for the MARS bus at least 10 minutes before and 10 minutes after the scheduled departure time. MARS drivers are not allowed to enter private homes beyond the doorway or carry packages for MARS customers.

MARS is available from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. MARS does not operate on city-sanctioned holidays. Two buses transport passengers full time, while a third bus is part time. The buses’ transportation coverage is limited to certain areas of Huntsville.

For more information, contact Kirkland at 256-772-2551, email elise.kirkland@madisonal.gov or visit madisonal.gov.

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