Ride Solution numbers up in Greene County

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Greene County residents are utilizing public transportation in increasing numbers.

Use of Ride Solution -- the public transportation system operated by Four Rivers Resource Services, Inc. -- continues to grow, more than doubling in the last four years.

On Monday morning representatives from Ride Solution appealed to the Greene County Commissioners for continued budget support in 2010.

The request, which was approved by a 3-0 vote of the commissioners, amounts to $4,000 for next year.

The request, which will be a part of the commissioner's 2010 budget, now goes before the County Council for consideration during the budget hearings in September.

Ride Solution operates in eight southwestern Indiana counties -- Greene, Daviess, Dubois, Gibson, Martin, Pike, Sullivan, and Warrick.

In Greene County, 22,781 trips were recorded in 2008 -- up from 20,560 in 2007, according to Four Rivers Resources Executive Director Steve Sacksteder.

The program has shown a steady increase in Greene County ridership -- 19,711 in 2006; 17,291 in 2005 and 10,620 in 2004.

"We think this is a really important service in the county," Sacksteder said.

The program provided 149,155 trips in the eight-county service area during 2008.

The bulk of the trips are for work (36 percent), Adult Day Services and Nutrition (32 percent) and Medical (17 percent). Another 11 percent were recorded for shopping, errands and social activities as well as four percent for school.

"The key to all of this is coordination and the more that we can put together individuals that have to go to Bloomington or some place like that at the same time, then the better we are able to defray the cost and match people up," Sacksteder said.

Ride Solution Transportation Director Beth Browning told the commissioners, "We do provide trips to anyone and everyone who needs it."

She explained that aside from providing transportation, the program has a mutual aid agreement with the eight counties served to provide emergency transpiration in a time of need -- such as last June's flooding.

"We did have a lot of people who had medical treatment and dialysis that were cut off from Linton. They did call us and we were able to transport these folks up to Bloomington, Terre Haute and down to Daviess County so they were able to get treatment. We are here and we are ready to serve in a higher capacity than just your normal 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. transports.," Browning said.

Browning also announced that Ride Solution would expand service to Greene County in transporting students to the Special Education Cooperative facilities and to job shadowing to give them some life skills.

"That's something they are going to put in place here in Greene County this (coming) school year," she said.

Founded in January 2001, the transit program began in part as the brainchild of former Bloomfield Presbyterian Church pastor, the Rev. Robert Lorimer, who headed a grassroots group of local citizens and representatives from Generations, a senior citizen service organization operated by Vincennes University.

Rev. Lorimer felt that transportation was one area in which people could pull their resources together to accomplish a common goal.

The idea fostered the formation of a transportation alliance committee that soon sought to plan, collaborate and coordinate the rural transit system.

With the assistance of Four Rivers Resource Services, the lead agency based in Linton, hired to administer Ride Solution, and Southern Indiana Development Commission, of Loogootee, the group procured $250,000 in federal and local match money to get the project off the ground.

Ride Solution pulled together several other agencies that individually had already been providing transportation to specialized groups such as the elderly, disabled, those on Medicaid in selected areas -- but not in the entire service area.

Its initial goal was to provide a means to get riders to and from work. But soon it became a popular means of transporting individuals to the grocery store, doctor's and dental appointments, for medical testing, job seeking, to visit a friend or relative, to go to the department store, to do laundry or many other reasons.

Currently Ride Solution receives funding from Four Rivers Resource Services, Inc.; Generations; Gibson/Pike County Area Rehab Center; Old American Transportation Services; Senior and Family Services; Southern Indiana Resource Solutions, Inc.; West Central Indiana Economic Development District; Federal Transit Administration, Indiana Department of Transportation, Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP), Southern Indiana Development Commission (SIDC) and local contributions from the counties served.

The program operates 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Vans are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Officials suggest calling the Washington based dispatch center 24 hours in advance when possible, but same day service will be accommodated if scheduling permits.

Fares are: $2 each way in town and $3 each way in the county. County-to-county transport is $6 each way.

Youngsters 7-12 can ride for $1 with a paid adult and children under six ride for free.

Ride Solution can be contacted by calling 1-812-254-3225 or toll-free at 1-877-369-8899.

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