HOP route cuts could have a huge impact on Killeen rehab facility

Chris Rogers reports.

KILLEEN - UPDATE: The bus route cuts have been added to the agenda for the July 18 Killeen City Council meeting.

Original Story:

A Killeen non-profit is struggling to find solutions after a number of public bus routes are set to close in the near future.

On September 1, the central Texas HOP system will no longer run routes, 7,21, and 30 in Killeen.

Every day, countless people in central Texas use the HOP transit system to get around, but for students at Dazona Life and Learning Center, public transportation is not just convenient way to travel – it’s a necessity.

William Escobedo is a teacher at the non-profit day rehab facility, that serves adults with disabilities and teachers them both academic and life skills.

“None of our students have driver’s licenses or can even take the test because of their disability, so they rely on the buses,” Escobedo said.

The route that takes 22 of the center’s 36 student to and from the facility every day is one of the three being eliminated.

HOP said the routes simply don’t make financial sense as they rarely meet the required ten passenger quota per service hour. But for the learning center shutting down the routes could put them in a dire situation.

“It’s a large percentage of our folks,” Escobedo said. “and being a non-profit we rely on those tuitions to keep the doors open and continue our day to day services.”

Without more than half the attendees, the staff would have to back major cutbacks just to survive.

Assistant Director Jordan Jamar said they develop their learning around what the students need.

“Not having those students there anymore we are just going to have to completely change our program,” Jamar said.

But it is not just a matter of program cuts.

For students who rely on the center for a sense of purpose, no longer attending would shatter them.

Escobedo said those thoughts have been reflected in some of the student’s journal entries.

“She had wrote that coming here, gives her hope for the future,” Escobedo said. “and helps her feel like she can become successful in whatever she puts her mind to.”

As staff scrambles to find ways to adjust to the cuts, the thought of some students being left out is heartbreaking to those who have seen the facility grow since it began.

“Even if we can keep the program going,” Jamar said. “to know that there will be people at home that want to be here and want to be part of our family is devastating.”

There’s going to be public hearing on the issue in August where people can ask questions and voice their concerns.

A spokesperson for the transit system said barring something drastic, they will move forward with the cuts as planned.

© 2017 KCEN-TV


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