OATS Transit changing its dispatch system

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- OATS Transit in southwest Missouri is changing how its buses are dispatched. The change impacts 17 southwest Missouri counties.

Many use OATS Transit to get to senior centers. Currently, you must contact a volunteer or driver to schedule their trip. But starting next week, riders must call the Springfield OATS office instead.

OATS Transit is a non-profit organization that serves 87 Missouri counties. It has been around since 1971, and most it serves are the elderly and disabled. The cost of their ride depends on grant funding in that particular area. Drivers will take riders to doctor's appointments, the grocery store, or anywhere they need to go. In rural areas, the service is also available for the general public.

Currently, you have to call about seven-to-10 days ahead, but with the new dispatching system, OATS hopes to make that call ahead time shorter. Employees at the Springfield office are training on a new dispatching software that leaders of the organization believe will make their service more efficient. OATS already rolled it out in other parts of the state, like Kansas City, where it is already seeing some big improvements.

"This is going to be a good thing long-term for people," said Jill Stedem, of OATS Transit. "And I know that change is hard to begin with, but I think once people see what we're able to offer and how much more service will we are able to offer and expand the opportunities for them to get out in their community."

The new dispatching system will go live next Tuesday, August 20. The Springfield OATS office number is (417) 887-9272.