SIDNEY — A pilot program to expand transportation options in a six-county region has been announced by Michelle Caserta-Bixler, Mobility Manager at Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley. Funding has been secured from the Ohio Department of Transportation for the six-month pilot program. Other partners in the endeavor include Area Agency on Aging 3 and Logan County RTC Services.
The Volunteer Driving Program is focused on transporting individuals to medical and non-medical appointments and to employment. Priority will be given to older adults and individuals with disabilities as well as low-income populations who do not have access to other options. The program will allow access for individuals who need transportation outside of traditional transit hours and cannot afford the high cost of private providers.
The pilot will run in Auglaize, Logan, Mercer, Shelby, Darke and Champaign counties. One of the goals is to eliminate gaps in transportation that exist because of the lack of cross-county and region-to-region transport, said Caserta-Bixler.
The initial phase of implementation is the recruitment and training of approximately 10 volunteer drivers. The volunteer drivers will provide curb-to-curb transportation for passengers who need rides to medical and non-medical destinations. Drivers will use their personal vehicles to transport within their county and adjoining counties. Drivers will be expected to safely operate their vehicles according to state of Ohio driving laws and fill out reporting forms.
Drivers will be thoroughly trained and vetted (background check required). They must hold valid Ohio driver’s licenses with no more than three points accrued. They must be able to read maps and follow directions. Training will include eight hours of ODOT Drive training, CPR and First Aid, VIRTUS (Child Protection) training, and Defensive Driving training.
Each driver accepted into the program will be encouraged to volunteer for at least two and no more than eight round-trip assignments per month. Although the position is volunteer, there will be some compensation to account for gas allowances, insurance costs and vehicle depreciation.
Anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer driver should contact Caserta-Bixler at Catholic Social Services, 937-575-7115 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.