Other Voices: Telecare provides access
We live in a world where access equals independence.
The majority of us have a reliable and relatively easy form of access in that we are able to drive, bike, walk or take the bus to activities in our rural community.
For those who cannot implement these mobility options, the Americans With Disabilities Act was passed in 1990 in order to ensure equal access and opportunities for everyone. This federally mandated legislation requires transit systems to offer both accessible services, such as Gold Country Stage, as well as complementary ADA paratransit service for those folks who cannot access the bus.
Gold Country Telecare provides the ADA service in western Nevada County through a contract with the county. The hours and days of operation match those of the fixed route system and fares cannot be more than twice the fare paid on the fixed route. The Telecare service is legally mandated to serve!
A 3/4 mile area on either side of the fixed route bus system is called the “ADA corridor of service.” Locally, the ADA corridor encompasses the Grass Valley-Nevada City area, outward to Cedar Ridge-Highway 174, and down Highway 20, to the Penn Valley and Lake Wildwood area.
Telecare is legally mandated to provide rides to those traveling within this corridor. In addition, there is also an extended paratransit service area where rides are scheduled on Telecare paratransit service if available.
ADA corridor rides do receive priority. The majority of the time ride requests are successfully fulfilled within both the ADA corridor and the extended paratransit service area.
Unfortunately, there are occasions when we must deny ride requests from the extended paratransit service area when the ride schedule is full due to ADA corridor ride requests. We will then put the passenger on a stand-by list and try to provide a ride through one of our additional transportation programs. These additional transportation programs are funded through Telecare fundraising, donations, and grants.
For an individual to use the Telecare paratransit service they must be qualified through a simple application process. This process is in place to determine ADA paratransit eligibility and to ensure that only those who are qualified use the service.
Eligibility is determined through the County of Nevada Transit Services Department. In addition, if an eligible individual lives outside the service area and can find a way of getting to a pick-up point within the ADA Corridor they may use Telecare services.
Telecare is a demand-response paratransit service, which means that ride requests are taken in response to calls from passengers 1-14 business days in advance for specific times and destinations.
The passenger is then pre-scheduled on an accessible vehicle that provides door-to-door transportation service to health related appointments, shopping, personal needs activities, employment, social activities and all other community activities and services.
Our mission at Telecare is to provide transportation to seniors and persons with disabilities in order to keep them independent and connected to the community.
At the end of June 2007, we will have provided approximately 68,550 rides in FY2006-07. The demand for Telecare paratransit service continues to grow as does the challenge to secure the necessary revenue to meet this demand.
Fortunately Grass Valley, Nevada City, the County of Nevada, the Nevada County Transportation Commission, and the Nevada County Transit Services Commission continue to support both Telecare and the Gold Country Stage with all transit funding that is available. These entities along with Telecare are committed to providing our community with the maximum level of public transit possible.
I encourage folks to contact Telecare at 272-1710 for additional information regarding paratransit services in western Nevada County and to make individual ride requests. Our Telecare staff is dedicated to doing our best in providing access and independence to all the wonderful folks we serve throughout the community!
Susan Healy-Harman is the executive director of Telecare.
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