News & Stories
CICOA’s Way2Go Transportation Program Provides Vital Service to Seniors and People with Disabilities
Vicki Edwards, 54, awoke one night in April 2013 with a pain in her neck. The pain turned out to be a ruptured disc, and within an hour of being taken to the hospital, she was paralyzed.
Prior to her injury, Edwards was a manager at a dental office who was active with family and church activities. After enduring nine days in the hospital and weeks of rehabilitation, Edwards returned home to a very different life, requiring 24/7 care and the use of a power wheelchair. Her partner, Bruce Meadows, became her full-time caregiver.
Today, Edwards relies upon local paratransit transportation options and New Freedom Transportation vouchers from CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions’ Way2Go transportation service to travel to doctor visits and other needed appointments. Without the vouchers from CICOA, the cost and the time required for Edwards to get to her medical appointments would be costly and physically taxing.
“A taxi ride from our house on the south side of Indianapolis to the ENT specialist just north of Indianapolis cost $103 round-trip plus tip,” Meadows said, “but with the vouchers, it only costs $24.”
He added that scheduling restrictions and lack of flexibility with other local transportation options pose challenges too. What should be a 20-minute commute to a doctor on the east side of Indianapolis can sometimes take four hours with other providers, he said.
Senior Transportation and New Freedom Vouchers
Each month, the Way2Go department receives 4,000 calls requesting assistance with transportation. Way2Go is able to help older adults through the senior transportation program, and those with disabilities can apply for New Freedom vouchers. According to Emily Arent, director of Way2Go, CICOA has provided 36,053 trips through the two programs so far this fiscal year.
Senior Transportation in Indianapolis
Eligible seniors over 60 can take advantage of three different services for travel within Marion County:
- Essential Needs Transportation. This service provides individual trips for medical appointments, pharmacy and grocery stores.
- Shuttle Service. CICOA provides shuttle transportation services to 30 senior apartment communities and community centers in Marion County. These trips primarily are for grocery shopping or other essential needs. On average, Way2Go provides 736 shuttle rides per month.
- Taxi Discount Coupons/Wheelchair Vouchers. CICOA provides coupons and taxi vouchers that can be redeemed through ZTrip (formerly Indianapolis Yellow Cab) for direct transportation service.
About New Freedom Vouchers
The New Freedom vouchers program serves individuals of any age who have a disability that prevents them from using public transportation services, including those with vision impairments, people who use assistive devices for mobility, and those undergoing treatments that may impair driving ability or make it difficult for them to access regular public transportation. Individuals who live in CICOA’s eight-county service area can apply.
This fiscal year, CICOA has distributed 143,045 New Freedom vouchers and Senior Transportation taxi discount coupons/wheelchair vouchers. Funding for the New Freedom vouchers is provided by a Federal Transit Authority grant awarded by the Indianapolis Public Transit Corporation (IndyGo).
The current need for New Freedom vouchers exceeds available funding. In an attempt to provide some transportation support to those individuals on the waiting list for this program, CICOA implemented a lottery system four months ago. The lottery system allows for the distribution of 200 transportation vouchers to 20 randomly selected waiting list clients.
Despite the limited availability of vouchers, Edwards and Meadows are thankful for the 20 New Freedom vouchers they have received.
“For someone in a wheelchair, transportation is a huge issue,” Meadows said. “Able-bodied people don’t think about how any injury would impact them. Without the vouchers, our ability to get around would be very restricted.”
For more information about Way2Go, including applications for the transportation options, visit the Transportation section of our website, or call CICOA’s Aging & Disability Resource Center at (317) 803-6131. In addition to information about Way2Go, CICOA staff can provide information about other transportation options within CICOA’s service area.