They served our country, but now say they are being left out in the cold. A bus stop next to a Columbus VA Care center is used by numerous Veterans every day. They said it provides no protection from Ohio’s cold, wind, rain and snow, and after complaints to COTA went unanswered, they decided they Better Call Jackson.
For Veteran Chris Eckert, getting around is not always easy, “I was in the army, Desert Storm and Desert Shield,” The Veteran said. He needs help with mobility after injuries he sustained overseas. Lately getting to his appointments at his Columbus VA Care Center is even more difficult, “I go at least once a week, but it could be up to three times a week.”
It’s particularly hard when he must use the bus stop next to the VA on James road in Columbus. One popular with other veterans like Curt King.
“It is cold out here in the wintertime, and we need some kind of a shelter,” King said.
The bus stop also sits next to a K-12 school.
“A lot of vets here, people going to work, kids going to school,” King added. Kids and vets are left exposed to harsh winds, rain and snow every day as they wait for the bus.
Eckert said he has called COTA about a shelter many times, “I haven’t got a call back,” Eckert said.
So he called Better Call Jackson, and we went to COTA to get answers.
“We constantly keep track of the number of boardings,” Jeff Pullin with the Central Ohio Transit Authority said. COTA and bus stops and shelters are tax dollar funded, and therefore according to Pullin, bus stops with the highest number of riders get priority.
“You have to have at least 35 boardings, every day,” Pullin said.
Turns out this particular bus stop only became more popular when COTA did their big redesign about a year or so ago. Taking that into account and the stop’s location between a VA Care center and school, Better Call Jackson found out some good news.
“Right now we are in the design phase with that bus stop and 12 others,” Pullin said. A new bus shelter will soon stand at the stop in question, protecting patrons from bad weather. COTA hopes to have it up by next winter.
“I will be happy to see it,” Eckert said when he found out the good news. It means some protection for him and his comrades, years after they risked their lives, protecting us.
“That will be great, I can’t wait,” Eckert said.
COTA is also working on an Adopt-A-Stop Bus program where people and groups can sponsor stops in their neighborhood. They hope to roll out that plan, later this spring.