Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Transportation pilot project launched

Special to the Sydenham Current

The more barriers a person faces, the more likely they are to be excluded from activities and opportunities.

Chatham-Kent, as a largely automobile-dependent rural community, presents some difficulties for residents: who are non-drivers (too young or too elderly to drive), who do not have a driver’s license, who live in a low-income household, who are recent immigrants or refugees, and/or who have disabilities.

It is estimated that one third or more households in Canada have at least one member who faces disadvantages related to transportation.

To help address these disadvantages, Family Service Kent has partnered with the Municipality of Chatham-Kent to launch a new transportation pilot project.

The new fee-for-service program focuses on connecting people to their community by providing an affordable, accessible transportation option to rural and/or low-income people ages 0 to 60.

The program has one accessible vehicle that can hold 2 passengers using wheelchairs and 7 walk on passengers.

All transportation fares are based on passengers’ ability to pay. The rates operate on a sliding scale and are determined by filling out an Application for Service and providing proof of combined gross household income.

Eligible residents can use the transportation service for a variety of needs ranging from drives to appointments and social activities or to be linked to pre-existing transportation services within Chatham-Kent such as the bus or VIA Rail.

The program, named adVANtage Transportation Service, was soft-launched at the beginning of April and is on track to be fully operational by the end of June.

It is currently accepting referrals from Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), and the Children’s Treatment Centre of Chatham-Kent.

By July 1, the program will be expanded to accept referrals from the general public.

Family Service Kent is a local non-profit agency that provides multiple services to support, empower, and advocate for members of the community.

Through this four year project, Family Service Kent seeks to reduce social isolation and improve quality of life for Chatham-Kent residents who do not currently qualify for, or are presently underserved by, existing transit options in the municipality.

Interested residents can call 519-354-6221 ext. 275 or email advantage@familyservicekent.com for more information about the transportation service and to request an application form.

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