Transportation in very, very rural southwest Virginia
September 11, 2015 9:38 AM   Subscribe

Currently, I am living with my mom in Giles County, VA, about 15 minutes outside of Blacksburg (home to Virginia Tech). I'm unable to get a license right now, and there is no public transportation here at all (until Blacksburg). I need to figure out how to get to Blacksburg more often, but that's proving hard to do. Details within.

Even though Blacksburg isn't that far away, it's all a four-lane highway to get there, and I don't bike either. My mom works very long days so can usually just help on weekends. I have a lot of medical appointments in Blacksburg or other nearby towns. I'm applying for Medicaid so I can hopefully get medical rides. In the meantime, I'm relying on neighbors and family, but sometimes nobody is free. I've also reached out some to a local minister who helps when he can.

There is one cab company around here, and they charge $35 each way between my house and downtown Blacksburg, which is too much. I am sketched out by uber, plus there aren't many drivers here. I have tried craigslist, but that's just been a nightmare--not many responses and the one person. thought I'd found was really sketchy in her rates. I don't mind paying someone; I just don't want to be gouged.

Especially given the colleges nearby (Virginia Tech, Radford, and the community college farther out), I feel like there has to be some way to find someone to help out for a reasonable price. Where can I look to find folks who can help? If you have ideas, please be specific in terms of where to find boards to post or things like that.
posted by mermaidcafe to Travel & Transportation around Blacksburg, VA (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There could be an informal ride share group or even network you could access. Call the hospital and ask the front desk if they know about anything. Churches will probably know, too. Is there a Greyhound stop? That could probably be less expensive if you booked ahead.
posted by parmanparman at 9:52 AM on September 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Are there commuters that go into town for work every day? A carpool kind of situation?
posted by littlewater at 9:56 AM on September 11, 2015

Are there any places within walking distance (like a grocery store) that might have a bulletin board or a place you could put up a sign? I know craigslist is often the better choice these days, but for something so hyper-local that might be more successful. Maybe there's someone who drives in for work that you can catch a ride with on some days.
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:57 AM on September 11, 2015

Can you get a listing or advertisement through the colleges?

Does the hospital have a social worker who might have ideas or connections?
posted by maurreen at 9:59 AM on September 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Have you looked into G-Reach?
$5 rides to medical appointments, etc., and it looks to be for if you're low income, but don't qualify for Medicaid, so you may or may not qualify.
posted by damayanti at 10:03 AM on September 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also, see if there is a community for your neighborhood.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:21 AM on September 11, 2015

If it were me, I would contact the Corp of Cadets and see if they have a student that would give you the ride in exchange for gas money. Their moto is Ut Prosim, that I may serve. The cadets are almost always willing to serve the community. I know of students who drive to Floyd to pick up people on occasion.
posted by AugustWest at 10:50 AM on September 11, 2015

Most colleges have Commuter offices on their campus. Check their website and call to see if they have a carpool board where people offer rides etc. College kids would probably be happy to get some gas money if they are already going in that direction.
posted by maxg94 at 10:50 AM on September 11, 2015

(nit - Ut Prosim is the motto of the whole university not just the Corps) :)

In addition to the Corps it might be worth it to try Alpha Phi Omega which is a coed service fraternity. I knew a bunch of APOs when I was at Tech and this is something they would have jumped all over.
posted by bowmaniac at 11:02 AM on September 11, 2015

In my experience Uber is waaaaaaaaay less sketchy than small town cabs.
posted by sandmanwv at 11:05 AM on September 11, 2015 [6 favorites]

Exactly, sandmanwv. You can also complain to Uber's corporate offices/customer relations department if something goes wrong; I did that a few times with success.

I actually prefer Uber drivers over regular taxi drivers. The app shows clearly who they are and their license plates. More accountability. If you get a driver who you feel sketched out about, screenshot his information in case you need it for later; that is, if you decide to try Uber. :)
posted by dubious_dude at 11:07 AM on September 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm in Blacksburg, and I agree with others about VT volunteers and the commuter office. I've not attended VT for a long while, but a quick search indicates that might be another place to start.

New River Valley Community Services ( might also be able to point you in the right direction.
posted by idb at 11:37 AM on September 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

When/if you do get Medicaid, please utilize the transportation services that are offered. I'm up in Charlottesville, but it seems so few people are aware of this (particularly when it comes to their children) for rides through Medicaid "cab service." They're really helpful and as long as you give 72-hour notice, they'll really take you just about anywhere.
posted by kuanes at 1:38 PM on September 11, 2015

These are great ideas! I wrote Alpha Phi Omega, Engage, and the Corps. Thank you--I'm feeling quite relieved.

I know there's a grievance procedure with Uber. But it wouldn't do me a lot of good after I was assaulted by a driver, and there have been many reports of just that, in addition to them operating illegally and without insurance in most cities.
posted by mermaidcafe at 1:46 PM on September 11, 2015

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