By SARA ARTHURS
In memory of longtime Hancock Area Transportation Service rider Barbara Bloom, all HATS rides Friday will be free.
Donations made in Bloom’s name will cover the cost of operations.
HATS is public transportation and trips are scheduled on a first come, first served basis. Rides can be scheduled up to two weeks in advance and same-day service may be available. HATS services all of Hancock County. The first pickup is 7:15 a.m. and the last dropoff is 9:45 p.m.
Bloom, 79, of Arlington, died May 8. HATS Transportation Director Laurie Collins said Bloom used HATS for many years.
“She was really well liked by all our drivers,” Collins said.
Bloom had asked that donations after her death be made in her name to HATS. The organization received community donations that could pay for an entire day of free rides.
Bloom’s obituary in The Courier noted that she was a longtime member of the Upper Room Church of God, where she actively helped with sign language for services.
HATS is a curb-to-curb service with handicap accessible vehicles. It’s a program of the HHWP Community Action Commission and receives support from the Hancock County United Way, Ohio Department of Transportation, the Federal Transit Authority and individual donations.
Collins said the organization also wants to get the word out that HATS is “a safe choice” for children going to a swimming pool or the park, as drivers are certified and undergo background checks. She noted that this time of year there are many activities available for children, but some parents may be juggling to figure out how to provide transportation. Children 9 and older can ride without an escort. Trips can be scheduled to swimming pools, parks, sports events, movie theaters and other locations in Hancock County.
HATS offers reusable shopping bags for riders to transport groceries or other items while on the buses. The bags were donated from Meijer and Walmart and are available as a courtesy by request. All carry-on items must fit within a seating area. Riders can request a reusable shopping bag when they call to set up the trip. Collins said these larger bags are easier than handling many smaller plastic bags if a shopper is buying a week’s worth of groceries.
Veterans ride free every day through a program supported by Hancock County Veterans Services. Those making appointments with the Hancock County Probation Office ride free as well, through a program supported by the Probation Office, which Collins said is designed to remove “one of those barriers” people may face after being involved with the court system. Veterans or those on probation are asked to indicate, when scheduling a ride, if they fall into one of those groups.
To schedule a ride, call 419-423-7261. More information is available online at hhwpcac.org.