Pilot Program to Expand Transportation Options
February 2020 BONUS online content
In 2016, Catholic Social Services’ Northern Counties office launched RideLink, a call center designed to link adults with transportation options that could meet their needs and their ability to pay. In the course of managing this call center, agency staff have been able to assist many individuals in need, but have also found gaps in the region’s existing transportation resources. This has led to conversations with a variety of area leaders about how to fill those gaps.
In partnership with ODOT, Catholic Social Services is launching a pilot Volunteer Driving Program to expand transportation options in a six-county region. Thanks to funding from the Ohio Department of Transportation, the six-month pilot will run in Auglaize, Logan, Mercer, Shelby, Darke and Champaign Counties. One of the goals is to eliminate gaps in transportation that exist because of the lack of cross-county and region-to-region transport.
The Volunteer Driving Program is focused on transporting individuals to medical and non-medical appointments and to employment. The highest-priority populations will be older adults, individuals with disabilities, and low-income populations who don’t have access to other options. The program is meant to allow access for those who need transportation outside of traditional transit hours and who cannot afford the high cost of private providers.
The first phase of the program is the recruitment, vetting, and training of approximately 10 volunteer drivers. The training includes eight hours of ODOT Drive training, CPR and First Aid, VIRTUS (Child Protection) training, and Defensive Driving training. The volunteers will provide curb-to-curb transportation, using their personal vehicles to transport within their county and adjoining counties.
Anyone who is interested in getting more information about becoming a volunteer driver should contact Michelle Caserta-Bixler at (937) 575-7115 or firstname.lastname@example.org.