Kathleen Ryan and her daughter, Kayla, are common fixtures on Routes 34 and 36.
Weve been doing this for a few years, Ryan says.
In fact, quite often, 5-year-old Kayla hugs the bus driver and other regulars she sees on the bus.
Everyone knows her, Ryan says, laughing.
Both Ryan and Kayla go to school Ryan to Midlands Technical College, where shes studying nuclear medicine, and Kayla to a Montessori school in Columbia.
Ryan has an autoimmune disease that prevents her from driving, so the two take the bus.
Most mornings, their journey starts at 8 a.m., when they begin the trip across town via the 34 to Kaylas school. From there, Ryan walks Kayla to school, then walks a couple of blocks to another stop to catch the 36 to Midlands Tech.
In the afternoon, they reverse the process, but Ryan often finds herself waiting an hour between stops until Kayla gets out of school. It can sometimes make for a long day, but Ryan does it hoping it will lead to a better future.
In another year, Ryan will have her associates degree in science. With that and board certification, she hopes to land a job at a hospital or doctors office.
If you have a cancer and need a 3D scan of your body, that would be me giving you the scan, Ryan says.
Getting an education and having better employment options is important to Ryan, but making her life work now depends on access to bus routes. Ryan takes the bus not only to school or to the grocery store, she also takes it doctors appointments to see specialists.
Thats why, when Ryan found out Route 36 The Crosstown route was scheduled to be eliminated, she was devastated.
I said, Wait, Im finally doing something with my life and youre taking this away from me, she says. But its not just affecting me, its affecting so many people.
Ryan says she often sees veterans on the Crosstown getting off at the Veterans Hospital on Garners Ferry Road.
It breaks my heart, she says. Everybody is going through hard times. Everyone is already stretched, and theyre taking away vital bus services.
Ryan says shes not sure what shell do once the reductions go into effect May 14.
Its hard because Im the type of person that I have a backup plan for my backup plan, she says. I never thought the day would come that Id need a backup plan for my bus schedule.
In the meantime, Ryan says shes been poring over the bus routes, trying to figure out another way to get to class. She says she hasnt been able to pinpoint a route yet that will get her daughter to school and her to college on time for her 10 a.m. class, but nothing will deter her from finishing her education.
Thats not going to stop, she says.
Reach Lucas at (803) 771-8657.