June 21, 2019
I met a Winston-Salem hero at yesterday’s Partnership for Prosperity’s work session and forum on Transportation and Poverty Alleviation.
I am not referring to the first responders who protect us or a sports hero who inspires us or a politician who works for us on issues like alleviating poverty.
I’m talking about a husband and wife team who drive people to work who otherwise might not be able to get to work. I only met the wife, because the husband was working, but she was a force at the meeting. The wife’s name is Courtney James and she is the Executive Director of Employee Transportation, a private firm that gets workers to their jobs on time. She and her husband are the drivers, but they’re really private entrepreneurs who work their butts off between five a.m. and late into the night picking workers up at their homes, getting them to work on time, and taking them home, all for less than the cost of owning and operating an automobile. What’s really impressive is that she and her husband may be the only out-of-the-box transportation service providers in the city. I hope I’m wrong about that. If I am wrong, great. If not, then maybe a few more employers might consider helping the James by using their service so it can grow to serving more workers.
There are many good folks working on providing convenient transportation to and from work for those who depend on public transportation. But they are constrained by the amount of resources – money – allocated to meeting the need for public transportation and they were quick to admit that there is only so much they can do to get all those who need to get to work get to work.
To be able to offer this service, Courtney has to pay about $500 a month to have liability insurance coverage for her vans and be willing to subject her employees to periodic drug testing. Nonetheless, she and her husband are willing to go without sleep in order to build their business. But she knows – and it was confirmed at the meeting yesterday by experts – that providing transportation to a growing number of workers whose schedules don’t match the times and routes of public transportation has all the earmarks of a growth industry.
So, as claimed by some of the studies of public transportation I’ve read, if it is life-changing to help people with their specific transportation needs because that makes it possible for them to live a better life, then Mr. and Mrs. James certainly qualify as heroes.
Maybe I’ll meet another hero at the Partnership’s next forum and work session on Affordable Housing at Goodwill Industries between 2 and 4 p.m. on Thursday June 27.
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