Sunday, October 12, 2014

No. 65 – September 27, 2013 - Need a Ride, Buddy?

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Ashtabula County is not the easiest place in the world for people with disabilities to obtain transportation to necessities such as doctor's appointments. Grumblings about riders being left in the snow without transport and other complaints circulate freely, along with comments on the seeming impossibility to schedule transport within the rather limited window provided by the contracting company's phone system, these from the folks who use the system.

While many in the County express no interest in who provides the services, for some people this is an important.

The present contractor is MV Transportation, Inc., located in Vacaville, California. On the company's website they proudly point out they, “operate more than 130 locations in 28 of the United States, the District of Columbia, 2 Canadian Provinces and Saudi Arabia.”

The other three companies are City Taxicab & Transfer Co., located on Prospect in Ashtabula, Community Bus Services, Inc. from Youngstown, and Ride Right, operating out of St. Louis, MO.

City Taxicab and Community have very tiny web presences, each using primarily Facebook pages. Ride Right has more information online, with a menu item on safety.

Of course, web presence says nothing, really, about the reality of vehicles and people who provide transport, though it surprised me it does not seem to be possible, even for MV, for rides to be scheduled online. Automating scheduling saves money and so lowers the cost for the service while making it more accountable.

In the spirit of journalistic freedom this columnist asked a few people who live in Ashtabula what they would like to know about the companies who have put in bids for the contract.

Nick said he wanted more information on safety records.. Monique wanted very much to know how much they were charging for services and what we get for monies paid. Terry wanted to know if it is possible to schedule rides for emergency medical visits so she would be able to handle her,she said, all too frequent health problems.

Other questions are, how many rides are provided per year? How many needed rides fall outside the times now provided? And are records kept for all contacts with riders? How many accidents and injuries do these contractors each have in a year?

What would you like to know about these companies? Change over day, when the new contractor will be announced, is January 1st, 2014. Send in your questions now!

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