Transportation is one of the services that we offer to our clients that is in high demand. Our volunteers provide door-through-the-door service; a personal escort to the senior’s destination.
One transportation alternative for our clients is Metro Transit’s Access program. Access is a curb-to-curb service for the disabled. If we think that a client is eligible for Access, we recommend they sign up for the service. Access works very well for some of our clients, but not as well for others. One of the biggest problems is that Access requires a large time window. It may be hours before a client is picked up; and, it may take hours for their trip to be completed. When clients are frail, their ability to withstand the long waiting periods may be difficult.
To be eligible for the program, clients must go to Harborview Hospital and be evaluated – and Access will provide the ride. One of our clients signed up. As is typical of the program, the pick-up time was an hour later than what they told her – and then they did another pick-up and drop-off along the way. By the time they arrived at Harborview, she wasn’t feeling that well at all.
Metro staff began the evaluation. As a part of the eligibility test, she had to walk one block on her own. She collapsed halfway through.
The upside of this incident is that she passed the test – she is now eligible for Access! But the downside is this – that an elderly woman had to keel over on the street before she could use the public transportation system that is specifically for people like her.
What if our transportation program disappeared, and if all our clients used Access instead of our volunteer transportation program? According to Metro, the cost of the Access service averages $38 per trip. Based on that figure, and the number of trips our volunteers drove last year, we have saved Metro Transit – and the taxpayers – over $130,000. Remember, we receive no federal, state, or county funding. We depend on contributions from our generous supporters – like you – to keep our services going.
And while many Access drivers are kindly and personable – which type of service would you want, as a frail elder? A long wait and then a curb-to-curb bus ride? Or an efficient door-through-the-door service from your volunteer friend?