When she’s not riding the bus to church or to her granddaughters’ elementary school for special events, Columbia resident Lucille Walker takes the bus to work downtown.
Walker, 56, is an emergency room patient support technician at Palmetto Health Baptist, a job that keeps her on her toes.
“You have to have good shoes,” she says, laughing.
Having lived and worked in the Midlands her entire life, Walker says she has experienced, first hand, changes in the regional transit system — the reduction of run times, for example, and elimination of nighttime hours.
“I’ve been riding the bus since I was 18 years old,” she says. “I remember when I was going to MTC (Midlands Technical College). I got out of class at 9 p.m. and would catch the bus and go home.”
These days the bus Walker takes only runs until 6:15 p.m.
The elimination of nighttime hours has put a strain on Walker and some other coworkers at Palmetto Health.
The latest round of reductions will only add to that stress.
“There are people all over the hospital that depend on the bus,” she says. “(They work in) the housekeeping department, food service ... the nursing department, security, all over.”
Walker herself usually works an afternoon shift at the hospital going in at 2:45 p.m. and getting off work at 11:15 p.m. To get to work, she catches the bus from her home off River Drive north of Columbia at 2 p.m., which deposits her at the Transit Center downtown. She then walks two blocks to the hospital.
Getting home is another story.
Walker either catches a ride with a coworker or takes a cab home, which can be expensive. Cab fare runs about $6.
The bus times, she says, need to be later.
“If the buses ran up until at least 11 p.m., they (riders) would have a way to get home,” she says. “Right now, if you need to get somewhere after 7 p.m., there’s no bus. The city doesn’t stop at 6 o’clock.”
Reach Lucas at (803) 771-8657.