CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Veterans can ride any CARTA bus for free, starting today.
They will need a V.A. issued ID to take advantage of that program.
The bus driver said, “They have a card that they show.”
When the idea of allowing free bus rides for veterans was first being considered, CARTA was going to ask former military people to bring their DD-214’s to its offices for verification. But after further discussions, they decided to just let the VA take care of that step.
Here’s how the free rides on the bus will work:
“As long as you have a picture ID from the Veteran’s Administration, you just have to show that to the operator, and then the operator will enter you into the fare box and then you’ll be good to go,” said Lisa Maragnano, Executive Director for CARTA.
So, why did CARTA want to offer this benefit for veterans?
“One of the reasons we’re doing this is to say ‘Thank You.’, for their service and thank them for everything they have done so that we can live – you know, the life that we live and make the choices that we make every day,” said Mrs. Maragnano.
CARTA’s Executive Director Lisa Maragnano says they’ll continue the program for a year, and then they’ll assess the financial viability. If it works, they’ll continue to allow veterans to ride their buses for free, permanently.
Mrs. Maragnano said, “Just to make sure that it’s not going to cause us any huge funding issues, I don’t anticipate that it will, and then to work out any other, you know, issues that may come up in that year time maybe we didn’t think about things, like somebody brought up to me this morning, it could take a little bit of time to get an ID, so we need to work with the VA on that and see if they can work with us and see if we can get these folks their ID sooner than later, I’m not sure that, that will happen, but we’re going to try to do that.”
The free rides will be on any fixed route or Care-a-van services. CARTA is currently completing a 2 year-long service re-design study, looking at ways to maximize efficiencies.
And next year, they’ll assess this program.
“I’m sure they’ll be some things that will come up, but that’s why we’re trying it for a year, just to see if we need to make adjustments to the program. The goal is to continue it. We wouldn’t start it without trying to continue it so I’m hoping that, you know, there wouldn’t be any issues that wouldn’t allow us to do that,” said Director Maragnano.