LEE COUNTY, Fla. - People with disabilities are singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," but they're finding Lee County doesn't have a way to get them there.
Disability advocates say the county doesn't offer regular or accessible bus service to the new JetBlue Park.
"I was kind of in shock, all of us were," said Michael Pierce, who was surprised to discover he and his colleagues couldn't get a ride to a Red Sox spring training game on public transportation.
"'The new stadium's not in the corridor, we can't take you to the ballgame.' And we just kind of looked at each other with our mouths open, 'you're kidding!'" Pierce said he was told.
Legally blind, Pierce uses LeeTran's passport bus service for people with disabilities. As a longtime advocate for the disabled, he wanted to find out why that service wasn't available to JetBlue Park.
"All those people with disabilities can't see a Red Sox game because there's no transportation supplied by the county," Pierce said.
"The park was developed outside of our service area," said Joann Haley, marketing director for LeeTran.
By federal law, LeeTran provides specially-accessible bus service within 3/4 mile of any main bus route; but JetBlue Park is more than a mile from the nearest bus line.
LeeTran says its made few changes to its service over years, largely because of low funding levels.
"I just don't know whether there are going to be funds available to increase service in the foreseeable future," Haley said.
For Pierce, the issue isn't LeeTran, but a failure in the planning for the new ballpark.
"The problem is, somebody didn't look at what they were supposed to years ago," Pierce said.
He's now taken his concerns to county commissioners.
"My biggest job as an advocate is to make sure it doesn't happen again," Pierce said.
Pierce says he's had a positive response from county commissioners and even the Red Sox organization, but the exact solution for the transportation problem still isn't clear.