By Kyle Boaz
There’s more to the OATS system than common preconceptions.
“People have it in their head that it’s strictly for old-age people. Over the years they’ve expanded and got more buses and now anyone can ride as long as they are of age or with a parent,” OATS driver Jack Stumbaugh said.
The Pike County OATS system has routes in Bowling Green and Curryville to Bowling Green in-town on Tuesday mornings.
The Tuesday afternoon route is Louisiana, Clarksville and Paynesville to Bowling Green.
“I pick up Clarksville first then Louisiana a quarter after noon or 12:30 p.m. every Tuesday afternoon and it’s usually 4:30 or 5 p.m. when I get them back,” Stumbaugh said.
“If they get their appointments in that time frame, that’s fine.”
OATS transports from Pike County to St. Charles on Mondays.
A route to Hannibal is offered on Thursdays.
The “Weekly Express” takes passengers to Columbia on the second Friday of every month.
“My main job is to get people out of Pike County to get their groceries, they can get their prescriptions, make their doctor’s appointments,” Stumbaugh said.
Any new driver for OATS goes under the wing of Stumbaugh, and he has one piece of advice for them.
“I train anybody that gets hired in Pike County. First thing that I tell them right off the bat is you have to be a people person,” he said.
“I would put OATS up against any company out there. We have a dress code, we go to two all-day meetings every year done by MoDOT. They run a good, tight ship.”
OATS began in 1970 and was located in 80 counties in the state by 1973.
The service serves more than 30,000 people annually, according to the official OATS website.