Transportation limits challenge Taylorsville

Many agencies based in Columbus are set up to serve residents in specific neighborhoods or an area of the city. While many of these services also are open to people in rural Bartholomew County communities, these residents must travel farther for help.

This transportation dilemma gets to the core of income instability in the Taylorsville area, where 75.3 percent of students qualify for either free or reduced lunch programs, said Sydell Gant, principal of the local elementary school.

Taylorsville has the second highest rate for free or reduced lunch in the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. Only Clifty Creek Elementary in eastern Bartholomew County has a higher rate at 78.9 percent.

Many families in Taylorsville have only one car for multiple adult family members, said Gant, principal at the neighborhood elementary since 2011. This lack of reliable transportation bleeds into every aspect of their financial lives, she said.

Uriel Franco has a daughter in kindergarten at Taylorsville Elementary School. While every adult in his household has a separate car, some members of his extended family are not as lucky.

For example, his cousin shares a car with his wife, Franco said, while their three children take the bus to school.

Balancing work and school schedules results in constant negotiations for his relatives, however, Franco said.

Their solution: One parent works during the day, while the other works overnight.

But not everyone in Taylorsville is able to do that, Gant said.

Oftentimes, when one parent drives the family’s only car to work every day, employment options for other adults living in the home become limited, she said.

Buses in Columbus run only as far north as the IUPUC campus, more than five miles south of Taylorsville. So, Taylorsville residents without a second vehicle often are limited to whatever jobs are available within walking distance, Gant said. Over the years, transportation problems have gotten worse, she said.

Transient area

Since becoming Taylorsville principal, Gant said she has witnessed personally how transient an area Taylorsville has become.In the two weeks since the end of winter break, 24 new students have enrolled at Taylorsville. During that same period of time, 11 students moved away. Also during that time, she has seen six specific families enter and exit her school repeatedly.This kind of turnover is usually a sign that families are without a steady, reliable roof over their heads, Gant said.

But unlike Columbus, this isn’t an outgrowth of expensive housing, Gant said. Rentals are almost nonexistent in Taylorsville and housing costs are generally lower than in the city, she said.

But what’s happening in Taylorsville is people of three generations living together.

Bobby Bryant said he sees this all the time through working as a maintenance man at the Driftside Trailer Park. In some cases, several branches of the same family will cluster together in the park, he said.

The result is even greater pressure on limited transportation options, Gant said.

Even a chore as simple going to the grocery store becomes a major ordeal when residents are limited by the availability of a car, especially in a town more than four miles from the nearest full-service grocery, Gant said.

Support services also are provided on an ad hoc basis in Taylorsville, Bryant said.

Recently, several community members gathered money to help one of the trailer park residents pay the gas bill.

“This is obviously a poor area of the county,” said Chari Stone, United Way of Bartholomew County impact coordinator. “But when you get into areas like Taylorsville, most of our data is anecdotal.”

The United Way of Bartholomew County plans to conduct an upcoming needs-assessment study over the next two years and Taylorsville will be a major focus of the study, Stone said.

“Right now, those clients have to come to us to get services,” Stone said. “We want to find a better way to get services to them.”