Transportation boosts quality of life - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Transportation boosts quality of life

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Posted: Friday, December 12, 2008 10:56 pm | Updated: 10:55 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

One of the most humbling aspects about my role as a Chandler City Council member and pastor is the opportunity I have to meet and listen to people of very diverse backgrounds. Story after story, I realize how blessed we are as a community for being able to maintain quality services even during times of economic uncertainty. For certain groups or areas of the city, however, accessing these services can be a challenge. Thankfully, there are programs to assist these residents with their transportation needs.

Naturally, bus services come to mind when thinking of public transportation. Valley Metro, the main provider throughout the metro Phoenix area, recently expanded several routes serving the South Chandler area. One example is Route 96 on Dobson Road connecting the Snedigar Sportsplex to the Mesa Riverview Center. This route also serves popular destinations such as the Ocotillo community, Chandler Regional Medical Center, Dobson Ranch, Mesa Community College, Banner Desert Medical Center, and the METRO Light Rail station at Sycamore and Main streets in Mesa that will open on Dec. 27. Another popular route is Route 511 that connects downtown Chandler to the Scottsdale Airpark.

Bus frequency ranges from every 15 minutes during peak hours on weekdays and every 30 minutes during off-peak hours and weekends. Schedules, passes and other information about Valley Metro public transit services can be found online at valleymetro.org/bus/ or by calling Transit Information at (602) 253-5000.

For individuals unable to use bus services due to special needs or limited mobility, there are other transit options. Maricopa County Special Transportation Services provides countywide door-to-door transportation, a free service that allows residents to arrange trips up to seven days in advance. In addition to assisting seniors age 60 and older and people with disabilities, the program also assists low-income employees needing transportation to work and work-related activities. The service operates 70 vans and can provide bicycles, vehicle repair and emissions retrofitting, and in some cases gas stipends. Residents can call (602) 372-4280 for more information. Reservations are taken from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Dial-a-Ride is another option for people with disabilities and those age 65 and older who aren't able to access local bus services. Dial-a-Ride allows individuals to make reservations to be picked up and taken to a specific location within designated service areas. It is a shared ride service, so other riders may be picked up or dropped off along the way to a particular destination. Fares start at $1 and it is recommended to schedule trips about three days in advance. Additional information is available by calling (480) 633-0101 or the city's Transit Services Division at (480) 782-3440.

Finally, qualifying Chandler residents also can take advantage of discounted taxi fares with authorized cab companies. This option is available to those age 65 and older and to persons with disabilities. For information, residents can contact East Valley RIDEChoice at (480) 962-7433 or the city at (480) 782-3440.

Ensuring that people with limited mobility have access to local destinations such as medical centers, shopping or recreational areas is crucial. And these services play a key role in improving the quality of life for many throughout our community.

Kevin Hartke is a member of the Chandler City Council.

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