City Hall has received nearly $500,000 in federal funding to help expand the Dial-a-Ride service, which provides door-through-door transport for seniors and the disabled.
The award allocated $416,991 for operations and $52,980 in one-time funds for the purchase of a wheel chair-accessible van, expanding the Dial-a-Ride fleet to seven, city officials said Friday.
The program serves roughly 4,000 Santa Monicans annually, primarily through shared-van services. To qualify for the program, riders must be 18 years old with a disability or an adult 60 years of age and older.
Most Dial-a-Ride customers use the basic curb-to-curb service, but over time, door-through-door service has become increasingly in demand, helping more vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities remain more independent while preventing isolation, city officials said.
The door-through-door attendant rides on the vans and assists seniors out of and back into the home or destination and carries heavier items such as groceries.
Santa Monica is one of the very few municipalities across the country that funds a door-through-door paratransit program. Earlier this year the City Council provided additional funding for a needed expansion of door-through-door services that is now underway, city officials said.
The new federal funding will allow for a more substantial increase in hours, number of people served and flexibility in meeting current and future transportation needs of people with disabilities and frail seniors beginning early 2013.
For information about City Hall-funded services for seniors and WISE & Healthy Aging’s transportation and other services, visit www.smgov.net/seniors and www.wiseandhealthyaging.org.

— Kevin Herrera

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