Riverside, CA (PRWEB) June 28, 2012
It was announced that the TRIP Program, operated by the non-profit Independent Living Partnership, has been selected to receive this year’s top Beverly Foundation STAR AWARD. The award goes to TRIP for its effectiveness and efficiency in providing needed transportation for older adults and persons with disabilities who would not have been able to travel to doctors or make other life sustaining trips without the program’s assistance.
According to Richard Smith, TRIP General Manager, “TRIP challenges the misconception that volunteer driver programs don’t make much of an impact on community transportation needs and are expensive to operate.” Smith continues, “By the end of this year, TRIP Riverside will have provided nearly 100,000 trips for people who would not have had adequate health services access or, in some cases, would not have been able to continue to live in their own homes.”
Smith says, “Travel with volunteer escorts of their choice is free to TRIP riders, and costs the program $6 per trip, which is very economical when you consider that TRIP riders are generally the most difficult and costly group to provide with useable transportation.” TRIP riders have more medical needs than most residents of any community and require between 4.9 and 6.1 trips for medical purposes each month. That is between 1 and 1.5 trips to health services each week. Smith says that providing the same travel using Taxi subsidy services would cost a minimum of twice as much and a conservative estimate for providing the rides with ADA Paratransit would be a cost that would be at least four times as much.
In every community there are people who are classified as transportation underserved. These are people who live in an area without public or other transportation services or where minimal services are provided. They are probably elderly and live alone and have disabilities or suffer from chronic or serious illnesses or mental impairments that limit their mobility. Usually they are living on very low income that is near or below the poverty level. TRIP makes it possible for these people to access needed health and subsistence services which enable them to continue to live in their own homes and communities.
Riders in the nationally known Riverside County California volunteer driver TRIP program have reported promising results in a recently completed survey. 81% of those surveyed said they were ‘happier most days’ since they have been receiving TRIP special transportation assistance and 64% said that they believe their health has improved since being on the TRIP Program. 57% reported improvement in relationships with people in their community and 86% said that they thought their quality of life had improved.
TRIP was created in 1993 using a marketing approach. The Regional Planning Organization and the Office on Aging asked older adults what they wanted in a transportation service and then designed the program based on their preferences. Informants said they wanted personal vehicles to be used, they wanted the service to be free, they wanted the service to be available 24 hours a day every day, they did not want to have schedule rides in advance, and they wanted to be able to travel between cities without transfer or inconvenience. Volunteer escort-drivers make each trip with their rider, assisting them as necessary and required, and receive mileage reimbursements to help pay for gas.
According to Smith, “What makes TRIP different from other volunteer driver programs, and also makes the service so efficient, is the philosophy and belief that older adults can be self-reliant when given the tools that are needed.” Unlike other volunteer driver programs across the United States, TRIP assists riders to recruit their own volunteer drivers, and asks riders and their volunteers to schedule needed trips as mutually convenient. Smith says that shifting organizational volunteer recruitment and ride scheduling to the end-user saves money and improves service convenience.
The Independent Living Partnership is committed to assisting others start and operate successful services that mirror TRIP Riverside and many other organizations and agencies across the United States are beginning or are already operating services that are based on the TRIP model. Some of these include Community Connections in Claremont California, Orange County California TRIP, Bridges in Modesto California, TRIP Metro North in Malden Massachusetts, Whistlestop in San Rafael California, Thunder Road in Auburn Hills Michigan, Neighborhood Centers in Houston Texas and at the Lifelong Mableton Area Agency on Aging, Atlanta Georgia, among others.
Read more about the TRIP Model volunteer driver service at http://www.TRIPtrans.org