Award Winning TRIP Volunteer Driver Program Begins National Free How-To-Do-It-Too Tele-Conferences

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The Independent Living Partnership Invites Informal Conversations With Planners and Organizations to Talk about Providing A Proven Low-Cost and Effective Service for the Transportation Underserved In their Communities

The TRIP Program, operated by the non-profit Independent Living Partnership, has launched a national campaign to promote adoption of its proven volunteer driver service by other communities. An outgrowth of this effort was the first national TRIP Conversations tele-conference that was sponsored by ILP in late June and attended by transportation planners from across the United States.

According to Richard Smith, TRIP General Manager, “The idea was suggested by the manager of a service that we helped get started, Community Connections in Claremont California.” The Independent Living Partnership is committed to assisting communities start and operate successful services that mirror TRIP Riverside. Many other organizations and agencies in diverse locations in the country are beginning or are already operating services that are based on the TRIP model.

Smith says, “The idea of the tele-conference was to create an opportunity for the staff and managers of new TRIP services everywhere to come together to discuss their experiences, challenges and successes with each other, and with TRIP Riverside staff, so that we could all learn together.” He says, “The first tele-conference was kind of spur of the moment, announced two weeks earlier, but still attended by twenty planners, operators, consultants from different areas of the country.” The informal tele-conference format was well received by those who participated, so future TRIP Conversations are now planned for the last Thursday of every month, according to Smith.

Demand for special transportation services is being propelled by the aging of the boomer generation and volunteer driver programs are increasingly being thought of as a way to relieve some of the demand pressure on very expensive paratransit services. According to Smith, “TRIP has consistently been providing trips for $5 each, or less, as compared to $35 or more for each trip on paratransit, so it just makes economic sense to consider an effective, but less expensive alternative.” Smith recently made a presentation at the American Public Transportation Association meetings where he suggested that it would also be in the interest of transit and paratransit services to support or operate TRIP model supplemental transportation services.

TRIP was created in 1993 using a marketing approach. Focus groups 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.

Read more about the TRIP Model volunteer driver service at http://www.TRIPtrans.org

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Richard Smith

Ivet Woolridge
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