Way2Go Triples over Last Five Years as Demand for Transit Grows
POSTED: May 15, 2018
Paul, a 34-year-old who has Down Syndrome, relies on CICOA’s Way2Go transportation service to get to his job at a local grocery store and to his activities with Special Olympics. Paul is one of more than 300 Central Indiana residents with disabilities who are participating in the new My Freedom program, a partnership between CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions and Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority (CIRTA).
Way2Go has tripled over the last five years, and demand far outpaces capacity, in part because of programs like My Freedom and other transportation options and discount voucher programs that help those with mobility issues get to vital doctor appointments, work, the grocery store and other activities.
CICOA launched Way2Go in 2012 with one full-time driver. Now CICOA has 11 full-time drivers and four part-time drivers, and director Karren Sondrini said there is enough demand to more than double the program within the next three to five years. According to a 2017 Community Assessment of Older Adults survey in Central Indiana, 26 percent of older adults said they have experienced difficulty finding safe and affordable transportation.
“We want to continue to increase options for our clients,” Sondrini said. “The biggest opportunity to do that is through the My Freedom voucher program.”
My Freedom offers $6 one-way vouchers for people with disabilities in Marion and the surrounding counties and makes it easier for people with disabilities to use transit to get from their home in one county to an appointment or work in another county. It’s the only transportation program that crosses county lines.
Until My Freedom began in July 2017, if someone in Hendricks County (for example) needed public transit to get to Indianapolis for a medical appointment, he would need to make arrangements with Link Hendricks County and also Way2Go. The two vehicles would meet in the Meijer parking lot on busy US36, and he would have to switch vehicles.
CICOA and CIRTA wanted a better solution for those with disabilities, and the two organizations worked to secure more than $112,000 from the Federal Transit Administration and Indiana Department of Transportation. CICOA provides another $38,000 to fund the program. The My Freedom program allows people to use the vouchers with a variety of participating transit services, including Way2Go, Boone County Senior Services, Hendricks County Senior Services, Access Johnson County, taxi companies and more.
Individuals may qualify if they have difficulty accessing regular public transportation due to a disability such as visual impairment or developmental delay, if they require assistive devices for mobility or if they are undergoing chemotherapy, radiation kidney dialysis or physical or occupational therapy.
“My Freedom allows us to give people the freedom and dignity of moving from place to place on their own,” Sondrini said. “We have so many stories about people who are regaining or maintaining their independence by being able to arrange their own transportation. The only downside remains that we have more demand than we can meet.”
She’s also seen an increase demand for people on dialysis.
“So many who are on dialysis are relying on people who aren’t always available to get them to their appointments, and these are life or death situations,” she said. Her goal is to find a solution that takes the transportation burden off of so many people.
Way2Go offers a variety of transportation options at a nominal change:
Senior transportation services include:
- Door2Door service is for low-income residents in Marion County who are 60 or older who are unable to drive. The service is available to take people to medical appointments, pharmacies or grocery stores.
- Shuttle Service takes residents from several Marion County senior apartments to grocery stores, shopping malls, banks and other locations. A cost of $2 per roundtrip helps support the service.
- Discount Taxi Fare vouchers are available for qualifying older adults in Marion County, and provides half-price taxi rides through Yellow Cab.
- Wheelchair Transportation offers a $6 per one-way voucher through Yellow Cab.
Other services include:
- Medicaid Transportation. Marion County residents who qualify for traditional Medicaid are offered transportation to medical appointments. The cost ranges from 50 cents to $2 each way, depending on the distance.
- My Freedom offers $6 one–way vouchers for people who disabilities in Marion or the surrounding counties for medical and non-medical appointments.
For more information about Way2Go, visit cicoa.org/services/way2go/.