ALICE, Texas — If you've lived in the Coastal Bend for some time, chances are you've seen a van with "R.E.A.L" across it drive by at some point. You may have not known what it was for, who it was for, but it's likely passed you by at least once, if not several times.
R.E.A.L stands for the Rural Economic Assistance League, Inc.
The transit company, based out of Alice, serves 9 area counties and has been serving the Coastal Bend region for 30+ years.
Pamela Garza, Mobility Management for R.E.A.L, wants to remind residents the service is for everyone.
"Sometimes, when people see the R.E.A.L van they think automatically just seniors or people with disabilities, and yes we do see them, we have the buses and units that can accommodate them if they use a wheelchair, but we transport anybody. We can transport anyone.”
According to Garza, R.E.A.L was recently selected as the only transit company in Texas to receive a nationwide grant worth $90,000 to provide transportation for rural residents, expand higher education options and training opportunities at no cost.
Services are beginning for the summer sessions. Garza adds that right now, with gas prices being as unstable as they are, that she hopes no one ever counts themselves out of an opportunity over the concern of transportation. Instead, to call her office.
"You need to know that there are opportunities, just because you don’t live in the city, you still have the opportunity to get transportation to class and back home safely at no cost," Garza said. "'How am I gonna get to class? I live out here in San Diego, Freer. How am I gonna get all the way to Corpus to get to my classes there at the university?' We're here to help, we’re a phone call away.”
Garza says R.E.A.L will get students to and from their college campus at no charge.
Given the recent tragedy in Uvalde, Garza says she realizes that security is top of mind for many right now. She shared with 3News some of the safety and security features in place:
"All of our units are equipped with cameras and audio so they can be watched the entire time. From the time the units leave the yard they can monitor the audio and video inside every unit. All our drivers before hire, go through an extensive background check, drug-testing and we’ve done that from day one," Garza said. "We want the community to feel safe."
If you'd be interested in learning more about R.E.A.L's transportation program and services, you can call (361) 668-3158 or email them at email@example.com.