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PCACS Bus Service Helps Those in Need

Written by ryan. Posted in Uncategorized

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Published on April 06, 2011 with No Comments

by Bruce Lindner

While our Porter County Aging and Community Services’ buses have been rolling around the county even more efficiently with the help of technology, we still face a great demand for our countywide door-to-door service.

Since we received a computerized route match system in our seven buses through the Regional Bus Authority, we have been able to accommodate more riders on a daily basis by being more efficient. Through the software and GPS system, our drivers know details of where they are going and the best way to get there, saving time and allowing for more pick-ups and drop-offs. The computer plots the best routes and our drivers have this in hand.

But even with our Monday-through-Friday service helping about 160 people a day, I am often asked by area seniors: “Why can’t I get a ride?”

Our agency has implemented guidelines so we can serve those who are most in need – individuals who are disabled or seniors who are poor, low-income, disabled or facing health issues. We are allocating three rides a week to these individuals and while the cost is $1 one-way and $2 round-trip, we offer financial assistance for those facing hardships and clients with disabilities to allow them to ride free.

Rides are available from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday by calling our transportation office at 462-4302 48 hours in advance between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.

A question of funds

We will soon be welcoming three new, more comfortable buses that will replace some of our older buses in the fleet. These are at no cost to us. The federal government covers 80 percent of the $60,000 price tag and that is matched locally by the RBA. Paying for new buses isn’t the problem: it’s the cost of insurance, driver wages and fuel to run all of our buses on a yearly basis.

As we watch gas prices continue to rise and monitor how the state is allocating transportation funds, I am keeping an eye on the effects on our transportation service. We rely on federal, state and local funding to keep our buses rolling and we all know how budgets are tight. I am striving to make it through the year maintaining our bus service at its current level by examining additional local funding sources and keeping my fingers crossed that gas prices won’t hit $4.50 a gallon!

In the past, our agency has increased the cost of a ride, but that is not a route I am willing to take today. We saw fewer riders as pride prevented some seniors from asking for help when they could no longer afford the fare. To us, providing a much-needed ride at a reasonable price outweighs the small dent the extra money made in our operating costs.

Part of our mission is to offer transportation services to help keep seniors active and able to live at home as long as possible and I encourage able-bodied seniors to pool together and share rides, look to neighbors and family for assistance and to investigate the V-Line bus service in Valparaiso and Opportunity Enterprises’ service.

By working together, we can keep our senior community active while focusing our efforts on helping those who need it most. Our agency always welcomes donations. For more information, contact me directly at (219) 464-9736 or at bhlindner@frontier.com.

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