SAN ANTONIO — For some people, getting transportation can be difficult. A service not too many people are aware of helps them do so.

Betty Tapia has lived in San Antonio her whole life. She’s currently getting dialysis treatments.

“Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I go to dialysis. They pick me up in the morning on time,” said Tapia.

She started getting rides from Alamo Regional Transit, or ART, 18 months ago. She had no other way of making it to her appointments.

“I’m a widow and I don’t have anybody who can bring me or take me,” said Tapia.

She’s the life of the party during each ride.

“I’m the one that usually talks,” she said. 

Miguel Segura, with Alamo Area Council of Governments, or AACOG, which oversees the transit company, said they offer transportation for people outside San Antonio city limits. In all, this service covers 12 counties.

“It’s a great opportunity for residents of any rural community within the AACOG Alamo region,” said Segura.

He said they saw a need to get people to dialysis, but also a need to get people to their COVID-19 vaccine appointments. That prompted them to offer those rides for free. He said the pandemic hit them hard.

“It’s an interesting time. Pre-pandemic, we were averaging about 13,000 rides a month,” said Segura.

Compare that to a year ago at this time.

When the pandemic really hit us hard, we were down to about 5,000 rides a month. Those 5,000 rides a month were folks that just had no other way to get to their dialysis appointments, to their medical appointments, and we were that last resort for them,” said Segura.

A last resort for folks like Tapia.

Segura said they’re now up to about 10,000 rides a month. 

Back at home, Tapia can get some rest until her next appointment.

“My father built this house, I mean bought this lot, when I was 6 months old,” said Tapia.

For anyone in need of a ride, you can call the ART dispatch center at 1-866-889-7433. People of all ages are able to ride the bus. Reservations must be made by noon the day before you need to travel.