LAKEVIEW — Transportation for medical services and group shopping ventures has grown in recent years through the Lake County Senior Center, but now new funding is allowing even more opportunities to travel.
Non-emergency medical transit has been provided through the Senior Center, based in Lakeview, by funding via Greater Oregon Behavioral Health, Inc. (GOBHI). Two years ago the Senior Center began a medical transportation program for veterans Now thanks to the Oregon Transit Tax, established July 2018 to withhold 0.1% of employee wages, the transit programs offered through the Senior Center are being expanded to include trips to Alturas. Shopping trips from northern Lake County, and a dial-a-ride program offering local Lakeview rides anywhere.
“The program had been in place for years, way before I arrived, but when I got here they weren’t doing much,” said Lake County Senior Center Dir. Andrea Wishart. “We have always had some ODOT funds and special transportation funds available, around $50,000 a year, but with the transit tax now we can expand. We have been working on this for over a year.”
Allotted based on employed population per county, funding is split among two providers in Lake County: the Lake County Senior Center, and Paisley’s Inner Court Family Center (ICFC). In its first six months Wishart anticipates $60,000 in county funding for the two providers, and $100,000 thereafter.
“We will start with a monthly shuttle around town, which can be for anything – the bank, grocery shopping, whatever,” said Wishart. “That will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., one day per month. We are also expanding the Christmas Valley to La Pine transportation, and aligning it with free food box giveaways for those in need – those programs are completely free. The third one we are rolling out is a trip to Alturas.”
Last quarter the programs shuttled 165 individuals on 784 trips, driving 48,464 miles, traveling as far away as Portland and Pendleton for medical trips.
“The mileage we drive each month is astronomical, we have more than quadrupled it in the past five years,” added Wishart. “It has really taken off.”
The Alturas trips will cost $10, traveling to and from Alturas twice on Mondays. The program is being aligned with the Sage Stage, the equivalent transit program for Modoc County, which connects to Reno. This allows a transit alternative for Lake County residents wishing to travel to Reno for connecting flights or entertainment without having to make the drive themselves.
The Senior Center currently has three vans and a 14-passenger bus in Lakeview, and an additional two vans and three drivers based in the Christmas Valley area. To accommodate planned increases in travel, a new vehicle is being added to the fleet this month.
The monthly local free rides program will be available on the first Thursday of each month. It is open to anyone, not exclusively seniors. The Christmas Valley shopping shuttles to La Pine will depart on the first and third Wednesdays.
For more information about the ICFC transit program in Paisley call 541-943-3551. For more information about the Lake County Senior Center’s transit program call 541-947-4966, extension 106.