Metro Mobility adds dozens of buses to fleet

LAKE WORTH, FL (WFLX) - It's not that Marty Smoler, 80, of Lake Worth, doesn't want to drive to his doctor's appointments.

The decorated soldier can't. "One eye, I lost in Korea," said Smoler. "The other eye, over the course of 50 years, started diminishing."

So three times a week, he waits at the curb for a Palm Tran Connection bus.

Since Metro Mobility was hired to take over for three separate companies last summer, he's wondered whether he'd be better off walking. "They go way past their window, and I miss my appointment, and I'm waiting an hour and a half to come to get me," said Smoler.

State Rep. Irv Slosberg fired off a letter to county commissioners Monday, demanding an investigation into the county's contract with the bus service.

The commission signed it last summer hoping to save taxpayers $16 million on the $3 per-ride service it is required to provide for the elderly and disabled. "I'm not sure who is to blame," said Slosberg (D-Delray Beach). "This is a public safety emergency."

Palm Tran started a weeklong test period Tuesday.

Metro Mobility will have to prove they're getting better with scheduling pickups and shortening trip time or they could be asked to go in front of county commission.

Metro Mobility told Fox 29 the problem was caused by a drop off in the number of buses when they took over their president.

Cullan Meathe said, "The issues that we're having are inherent. We didn't have enough dedicated vehicles on the road. We put fifteen more vehicles on the road today, which was immediately successful and were 95 percent on time. We are working tirelessly."

Percentages are something Donna Henry knows well. Her son uses Connection to get from Lake Worth to FAU everyday. She tracks pickups with a spreadsheet.

"Since January 7, when he went back to school, they are late 66 percent of the time," said Henry. "It stresses him out. He's a freshman taking senior level classes."

Palm Tran says that after this test week, they'll make a recommendation to the county commission.

The number one thing they're looking at: Can Metro Mobility keep an on-time schedule?

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