Public transportation is an investment in veterans, the community | Letters to the Editor

When the outgoing nurse at the veterans clinic told me that veterans were having trouble getting to their medical appointments with veterans, I knew we had to do something about it.

I informed the Guam Regional Transit Authority manager, Cel Babauta, of the need for a veteran shuttle and he immediately agreed that it needed to be fixed. From the time I told her to the time we cut the ribbon for the veteran shuttle launch, it’s been less than a week.

Any Guam veteran can now call 300-4270 or 688-7105 to schedule a ride to their VA medical appointment in the GRTA Veterans Shuttle.

Thank you to Director Babauta and Governor Lou Leon Guerrero, for taking action so quickly for our veterans.

Transportation to medical care is a serious problem on this island. We have many residents who don’t drive, but everyone needs access to medical care.

No one should forgo medical care because of a lack of transportation. If you can’t get to the doctor or pharmacy for preventative or maintenance care, it affects your health and may ultimately require emergency care. Besides the serious harm this can cause to a person’s health, it also puts a strain on the hospital system and our three Ms: MIP, Medicare and Medicaid.

There are federal transit infrastructure funds that can really get us to the transit system that our community really needs. Last quarter, we passed a land transfer to GRTA to build a federally funded transit hub in Tamuning. This year, we are considering another federal grant of $9.2 million specifically for a park and ride facility that will further strengthen our transit infrastructure.

We should have medical appointment shuttles for everyone. A public/private partnership for more buses and routes should also be on the table.

Public transit is an investment in our people, an investment in better access to medical care, jobs, and a better life for so many families in Guam. As the federal stimulus makes its way here, let’s keep in mind the investments that bring lasting dividends in the lives of our people.

Senator Jose “Pedo” Terlaje is a member of Guam’s 36th Legislature.

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