Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dial-a-Ride Requires Good Communication

Dial-a-Ride is just a phone call and short wait away from safe and reliable transportation service for many seniors who cannot drive. However, using dial-a-ride services depends on good communication by both parties. Seniors who call must be able to hear well and speak clearly. They must be able to remember addresses and names of locations of where they are traveling to and be able to communicate that information when asked. Operators and drivers for the dial-a-ride service must be able to listen patiently and speak clearly to seniors in order to ensure destinations and pick up locations are accurate.

A good senior friend, Marie, never drove anywhere, but depended on Dial-a-Ride for many years to run errands safely. She lived in LA County where public transportation was scarce and less reliable. Once when Marie called to be picked up and Dial-a-Ride recorded an incorrect address, she got mugged while waiting outside of a store. Her purse was snatched and she suffered a broken hip and wrist from hitting pavement when the mugger knocked her down. Had the communication between Marie and the dial-a-ride operator been better, perhaps Marie would not have suffered such a misfortune.

From what I was able to find through a quick search online, Dial-a-ride is available in many cities, counties and states throughout the US including: California (multiple cities), Phoenix, AZ., Illinois (multiple cities), Minnesota (multiple cities), Michigan (multiple cities), Florida (Charlotte County), New York (Tioga County), Fort Collins, CO, Oregon (multiple cities), Richland, WA, and many more.

Each city’s Dial-a-Ride has different restrictions, rules, operating hours and fees to use the service.

In Los Angeles, the ride for seniors and those with disabilities is only $0.75 one-way. Dial-a-Ride service runs 7 days a week. People do not have to pre-qualify or pre-register to use LA Dial-a-Ride services.
LA’s “Public Works provides dial-a-ride (paratransit) services that consist of curb-to-curb, demand response, dialaride services. Most of these are for the elderly and persons with disabilities who reside in unincorporated County areas…In most areas, Public Works provides these services by contracting with adjacent cities to include unincorporated County areas in the city's paratransit service.” (LAcounty.gov, 2009).

Bend, Oregon asks for an application to prove eligibility prior to service, and calling a day ahead to schedule a pick up. Bend’s Dial-a-Ride “provides service to low income seniors not living near a fixed Bend Area Transit (BAT) route” (City of Bend Oregon Website, 2009).

The Wilsonville “Dial-a-Ride is a SMART service providing curb-to-curb transportation for Wilsonville residents who are unable to use the fixed route service. Priority is given to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) eligible customers… Eligibility to qualify for ADA level service must be certified by a medical professional” (RideSmart.com, 2009).

References:
LA County Dial-a-Ride: http://ladpw.org/PDD/Transit/Page_01.cfm

Bend, Oregon Dial-aRide: http://www.ci.bend.or.us/bend_area_transit/dial_a_ride/index.html

Wilsonville, Oregon Dial-a-Ride: http://www.ridesmart.com/Index.aspx?page=23

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