CREATED Jul. 30, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla. - For Florida Gulf Coast University senior Johnnie Oliver, getting around isn't easy.
"I am paralyzed from my chest down," Oliver said.
Thanks to Lee County's Paratransit bus system, Oliver can get to class and run errands just like everyone else. But because of county-wide budget cuts, Lee Tran has to eliminate some of its routes.
Since FGCU can no longer pay for its half of the route that goes to campus, the route is on the chopping block.
"We have talked to various people and looked at the options but we haven't been able to find a substitute funding source for that money," Joann Haley, Marketing Manager for Lee Tran, said.
Without the bus, Oliver won't be able to get to school.
"I wouldn't be able to finish my senior year, I wouldn't be able to graduate," she said.
FGCU Student Body President Juan Cubillo says he wants to help.
"Students that need something that are no longer able to get home or able to come to campus, that's something we have to address immediately," Cubillo said.
Student Government spent the day brainstorming ways to stop the route from ending. They also worked to come up with a back-up plan if it gets cut.
"A local cab company, maybe offer them a yearly amount, at least for the first year until we can get help, and in return the will give our students discounted rates on rides home," Cubillo said.
In the meantime, Oliver is keeping her fingers crossed. She wants to return to FGCU for a Master's Program and needs the bus to do so.
"I don't know how I would get a career for myself. I just want to be an asset to the community, rather than a burden on society," Oliver said.
Lee County Commission will vote on closing the routes at the end of September. There will be public hearings held on September 4 and September 18.