By Lookout Staff
September 7, 2012 -- Santa Monica was awarded $469,971 in the Federal Transit funds to expand a program that transports seniors and those with disabilities door to door, City officials announced Friday.
Of the money awarded by the Federal Transit Authority’s (FTA) New Freedom Funding to Dial-A-Ride (DAR), $416,991 will be used for operations for three years and $52,980 will be used to purchase a wheel chair accessible van and expand the DAR fleet to seven.
DAR, which serves 4,000 Santa Monica residents a year, received the second highest grant proposal in Los Angeles County, according to a notification from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which administers the local grant awards.
"Most DAR customers utilize the basic curb-to-curb services, but over time, door-through-door services have become increasingly in demand, helping more vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities remain more independent while preventing isolation," City officials said.
"The door-through-door attendant rides on the DAR vans and assists seniors out of and back into the home or destination and carries heavier items such as groceries," officials said.
To qualify for the program, riders must be 18 years and older with a disability or an adult 60 years of age and older.
Van driving is provided by a third party private contractor managed by the Big Blue Bus and outreach, enrollment, orientation, and door-through-door services are provided by WISE & Healthy Aging, a grantee of the City’s Human Services Grants Program.
"Santa Monica is one of the very few municipalities across the country that funds a door-through-door paratransit program," officials said.
"The FTA’s New Freedom funding will allow for a more substantial increase in hours, number of people served and flexibility in meeting current and future transportation needs of people with disabilities and frail seniors beginning early 2013," the added.
For information about City-funded services for seniors and WISE & Healthy Aging’s transportation and other services, please visit www.smgov.net/seniors and www.wiseandhealthyaging.org.