Contact: Mari Barnes, 847-432-3240
Mari Barnes, Supervisor of Moraine Township, announced today that the Township will begin by May 1 to provide their own paratransit vehicle for door-to-door resident service within a fifteen-miles radius. The wheelchair-lift equipped van will accommodate 7-9 passengers, plus two wheelchair riders. Under a rental agreement with PACE authorized by the Board of Trustees, the Township will hire its own driver and accept reservations from seniors and disabled residents for round-trip transportation with two-day notice to a dedicated van phone number (847-432-3000). Hours of “Moraine Door-to-Door” senior/paratransit van service will be 8:30 am to 4:00 pm; rides will cost $4.00 each way per person.
“Township boundaries -- encompassing all of Highwood, most of Highland Park, parts of Deerfield and Lake Forest -- are simply too limited to provide the scope of transportation our elderly and disabled residents need,” commented Barnes. “In conjunction with some enhancements we’ve made to the taxi subsidy program, and coordination in Highland Park with their senior shuttle service, we expect to truly be able to serve our residents markedly better.
“Under present rules, the taxi subsidy program can only be run to Township borders, so users pay quite a bit more to go beyond them, for example, to doctor's offices in Bannockburn. Also, taxis and their drivers are not equipped for people with disabilities, and wait times are unpredictable. Our Board felt these circumstances were simply unacceptable, so we've searched for and found another way. PACE offers excellent financial incentives, and we found waste in the taxi subsidy expenses.
“We're thrilled to announce this new initiative, and overall revised transportation plan,” Barnes said.
Moraine Township will continue to provide its taxi subsidy, but the system has been modified. Other township plans were studied, and focus groups conducted with senior riders.
“We are adopting a new, enhanced taxi subsidy model based upon what we've learned from those studies, and in close coordination with Highland Park’s Department of Senior Services,” according to Barnes.
Free taxi subsidy coupons will be distributed to Moraine Township residents age 65 or over, as well as those under 65 who are disabled. Coupons will carry a $3.00 value towards taxi rides; after 4:00 pm, rides may even be outside Township borders (although not to the airport). The coupon books will be available in late March at the Township office. The coupons are free, valid at all hours, assigned by number to a qualified user, and non-transferable.
While the City of Highland Park Department of Senior Services provides a circulating mini-van, it is not equipped with a lift, is limited to specific public stops along a prescribed route, and to residents of Highland Park. Working with Charlotte Landsman, Director of Senior Services, and Paula Cyphers, Highland Park Senior Center Social Worker, Barnes and Moraine Township Trustee Cynthia Plouché developed a plan to offer a wider range of transportation options to all qualified Moraine Township residents.
Barnes observes that “Although PACE does provide a special door-to-door van for legally qualified handicapped persons using advance reservations, when other elderly or marginally disabled residents need reliable transportation to a doctor's appointment within or outside of Moraine Township at a reasonable rate, they’ve been out of luck, until now.”
The Moraine Door-to-Door paratransit van will be supported from the Township's General Assistance funds, and modest fees of $4.00 each way by users. According to the present plan, users must be capable of getting into the van at the curb, and so caregivers will ride at no additional cost.
“The first year will undoubtedly require some tweaking of the system, but we are excited to launch this project,” said Plouché.
“We hope that the combination of enhancements to the taxi program, adjustments to the Highland Park Senior Center’s Connector shuttle route, and Moraine Door-to-Door will better meet our residents’ needs,” she added.
For further information, contact the Moraine Township office at (847) 432-3240 or online at http://www.morainetownship.org. To schedule Moraine Door-to-Door paratransit van pickup, after May 1, call the new dedicated line at (847) 432-3000.