SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – A nonprofit organization has been helping low-income Central New Yorkers get to and from work for nearly a decade, but the inability to find drivers and rising gas prices are forcing the shuttle service to shut down for good.
The mission of Providence Services is to support New Americans and under-resourced residents by providing stepping stones towards self-sufficiency.
Deborah Hundley, founder of Providence Services of Syracuse has been doing her part since March 2013.
The organization’s “Shuttle to Work” program has broken down barriers by providing transportation services for those who can’t afford cars or gas.
“People are on time. The company is happy. The people are happy, and it really worked,” Hundley said.
However, record-high gas prices on top of the COVID-19 pandemic are forcing Providence Services to permanently close effective Monday, March 21.
Hundley says it’s been difficult hiring and keeping reliable drivers and prices at the pump have only made the problem worse.
When Providence Serves was founded, a regular gallon of gas was about $2.35. The average price in Syracuse now sits at $4.42, according to AAA.
Providence charges customers $6.00 per ride, $12.00 total to get to work and then back home. Some employers would cover the cost for employees who use the service.
Hundley says current customers were given a two-week notice regarding the closure.
It’s horrible for me because I love that person. They’re just not a face and I know what this means. I tried as hard as I could to not have this come up like this, and I think they (customers) know that.Deborah Hundley, Founder of Providence Services of Syracuse
With the help of various grants, Hundley says the nonprofit has helped about 600 Central New Yorkers.
Hundley is now calling on the City of Syracuse and/or Onondaga County to continue the low-cost service.