In Hillsborough County there’s a service called the Sunshine Line that helps people get where they need to be if they don’t have a car. The Sunshine Line, funded by the Hillsborough County Commission, provides door-to-door transportation and bus passes for elderly, low-income, and disabled people who do not have or cannot afford their own transportation.
Ola Mae Smith in Tampa depends on the service.
“I love it. I couldn’t do with out it,” Smith said. “It’s really important to me, because I don’t have any other way to get around because I don’t drive.”
Sunshine Line takes people mostly to medical appointments and aging services day care and nutrition sites. Vehicles used for door-to-door service are wheelchair accessible.
Sunshine Line director Scott Clark believes it’s vital help to people in need. “Hillsborough County is a large county. The public transportation doesn’t cover the entire county,” Clark said. “There are people that aren’t able to ride public transportation or there’s areas not covered by that service. So we’re start of like the stop gap.”
The service ranges from free to $5 per trip. Reservations can be made a week in advance, and must be made no less than two days in advance. Bus passes must be requested at least five days in advance to allow time for the pass to be mailed. There are 60 Sunshine line vans on the road, making upwards of a 180,000 trips per year.
Clark said they get letters daily from passengers or their family members telling them how vital the service is to their lives. “Put yourself in this situation. If you have a car, you go to the doctor’s office,” Clark said. “A day later the doctor calls you and tells you hey, your test results came back I need to see you immediately. Well that’s not a problem for people with cars, you hop in your car, 10 minutes later you’re at the doctors office. For someone without transportation, it becomes a big issue.”
For more information on the Sunshine Line, call 813.272.7272.