Pilot transportation project for seniors starts this fall

At first the quest to bring transportation services back to Ramona seemed hopeless—budget cuts, layoffs, a slowing economy—but lately Ramona residents have been given a reason to hope.

A North County non-profit organization, FACT (Full Access Coordinated Transportation), has formed a working relationship with Ramona organizations and last month announced its intention to work with its Ramona partners to launch a pilot transportation project for seniors in Ramona this fall. FACT’s mission is “to create a transportation system that will provide access and mobility for all people in San Diego County.”

To prepare for the pilot project, FACT, Ramona Senior Center, Ramona Transportation Action Committee (RTAC) and E & E Transportation, hosted a Transportation Forum. This outreach effort, held in the senior center this month, aimed to introduce the upcoming pilot project and get input from seniors regarding their transportation needs.

“The pilot project will be consumer-driven and your input is vital to our planning process”, FACT Director Max Calder told forum attendees. “If we can organize trips for seniors by neighborhood and plan trips into town on the same day, then we can realize a cost savings which would make the project more sustainable.”

A group of about 15 Ramonans, a mix of young and old, attended the forum.

“The pilot project will offer seniors up to 100 rides per month and will cost $3 each way,” Calder said.

Forum attendees listened attentively to Calder and the mood in the room seemed optimistic. As attendees began asking questions, several inquires focused on the project’s proposed service area.

“Will the pilot project offer service in isolated areas on the outskirts of town?” one person asked.

Calder answered, “Our ultimate goal will be to provide transportation access to all of Ramona’s seniors. However, to start out, the project will be designed as a shuttle-type service that will allow seniors who live in the same geographical area to get rides into town on the same day/time.

“Theoretically, seniors living in isolated areas could receive service if they could coordinate with others in their area.”

The main concern for Ramona’s pilot project is sustainability, Calder said.

“The pilot project may not meet all of our seniors’ transportation needs, but the grouping of need is one way to make transportation in Ramona feasible and sustainable,” he said.

FACT wants to know what area Ramona seniors live in, where they want to go, and what day/time they want to go there. Based on what Ramona seniors report, FACT will identify clusters of seniors who live near each other and will assist them in coordinating a transportation schedule that meets their common need.

FACT will be contracting with Ramona-based E & E Transportation to provide handicap accessible, door-to-door service.

The pilot project will be paid for by the Senior Mini-Grant Program, administered by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), with money from the voter-approved 40-year extension of the TransNet half-cent sales tax county voters approved in 2004.

FACT’s offer to provide transportation to Ramona seniors is a definite step forward, those at the meeting agreed. However, it is up to the seniors to use FACT’s services so Ramona can be deemed a good candidate for future services.

This is Ramona’s chance to demonstrate whether or not they want to work with FACT to create a transportation system in Ramona, RTAC members said.

More outreach events are being planned and will be announced in upcoming editions of the Ramona Sentinel.

To learn more about FACT, visit the organization’s Web site at www.factsd.org.

   
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