SHAMOKIN - Dorothea Maguire was fed up.

Having no confidence that she could book a timely ride to her Oct. 5 doctor's appointment through Rabbittransit, and having no local family or friends who drive, she decided to walk instead.

It's about one mile from her home on Pearl Street in the Fifth Ward to the office of Dr. Richard Albright on Commerce Street - no easy task for a 74-year-old woman who relies on a walker and has a history of heart disease and strokes.

Yet there she was, slowly making her way through the streets of Shamokin on her return trip.

"If they don't want to do this job right, why don't they give it to someone who wants to do the work?" she said while traveling along Rock Street.

Rabbittransit, part of the York County Transportation

Authority, was hired by Northumberland County to operate its transportation department starting July 1, 2011. The change led to a number of service complaints, which subsided as the company got comfortable in its new role. But the recent implementation of an automated computer dispatch software program, part of a PennDOT pilot project, has resulted in an even larger public outcry against Rabbittransit.

'I waited and waited and waited'

Maguire said she walked home from a doctor's appointment on Sept. 28 after waiting at least 90 minutes for a Rabbittransit van to arrive.

"I waited and waited and waited. I just wanted to get home," she said.

When her Oct. 5 appointment approached, she didn't even bother to call the agency.

"I wouldn't try. They wouldn't get me anyhow today. I know if I call them up, I won't get through," she said, noting long waits on the phone to schedule rides.

Also, she said she was once told by a dispatcher that Rabbittransit didn't have any record of Albright's office.

While Rabbittransit utilizes local cab companies to pick up riders when they don't have enough staff or vehicles, Maguire had a bad experience, too, with that alternative. She said a cab driver who dropped her off at Walmart told her Rabbittransit would pick her up. When the van came, the driver told her she wasn't on the manifest and, citing state policy, wouldn't allow her to board.

"If I didn't get a hold of my friend, I'd still be sitting at Walmart," she said.

Other cases

Apparently, Maguire is not alone in her trouble with Rabbittransit.

Rose Vivino, 71, of 246 S. Pearl St., Shamokin, said she can't get through when she calls.

"I don't know what's wrong with that place. They should close if they don't want to take customers anymore," she said last week.

Irene Sowal, 82, of 31 S. Shamokin St., Shamokin, said she has missed her ride in the past because the driver left before she came out of her house.

On another day, she was scheduled to be picked up at 8:30 a.m., but the van didn't arrive until 9:30 a.m. The trip was scheduled to return her at 1:30 p.m., but she said she got home at 3 p.m.

"I don't know what times to schedule my appointments since I don't know what time my rides are scheduled," she said.

Frances Kalejta, 87, of 983 Trevorton Road, Coal Township, said Rabbittransit sent a taxi to pick her up after a beautician appointment in Trevorton. But the taxi got there before her appointment. The driver waited 10 minutes and left. A relative of the beautician ended up taking Kalejta home following her hair appointment.

"It's ridiculous the way they run things," she said.

How else?

Maguire said she has no choice but to use the service when she needs to take longer trips, such as to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.

"How else am I going to get to a hospital? If you're a senior citizen with no family around, how will you get there?" she said. "For a senior citizen, going to the doctor is just like food. You have to eat; you have to go to the doctor."