LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - With recent rains and flooding, Lawton Area Transit System was forced to reroute their buses to continue to take passengers.
Several roadways were flooded, which kept buses from making their usual routes and stops. Passengers whose routes were compromised, had to find another way to get on the bus, or make other arrangements to travel.
LATS transports around 1,500 passengers a day, so when severe weather hits and blocks roadways, they have to find a way to still pick up those passengers. People whose sole transportation is LATS, have to find a way to get to the buses as well. When the rain hits hard, it can cause problems for them and the buses.
"It was flooded quite a bit, and water came in the bus," said Larry Miller, a passenger.
Miller takes the bus every day and he was on it when the rain came down and into the bus, forcing him and other passengers into higher seating. Miller along with other passengers had to get creative to find other ways to get to where they needed to be, to include taking one bus to get to another bus.
LATS general manager Ryan Landers says they try to plan ahead for severe weather to check for anything that might affect them, but as most know, Oklahoma weather can be very unpredictable.
"We don't know when road closures are going to happen," Landers said. "Sometimes it looks as though there is going to be flash flood and it doesn't happen, other times it just happens."
Landers says they are trying to work on getting a better system to notify the public, via Facebook or Twitter. However, with the wide variety of passengers, they have to find a way that reaches most of their customers. For passengers who come in contact with this issue, LATS bus driver Epimenio Sandoval, says most of his passengers know LATS only has their safety in mind.
"They're patient, they understand that the water is rising," Sandoval said. "So, we don't want to go through there, get stuck and then they're there for hours, if we're stuck. So they're pretty much good with it, they understand what's going on. They know that it's raining out there, that there's going to be problems out there."
When the streets are flooded and blocked, and a bus can't get to a stop or house, Landers advises that if it's possible, to walk to a safe destination where a bus can get to.
"If a bus cannot get to that location, just for whatever reason, then we can see if a supervisor can get there and pick up that passenger," Landers said. "Our main focus is making sure that our passengers are taken care of."
Landers says until they get a better system running to notify the public, the best option for people is to call the office and they can direct you on what you need to do.