Written by: John DeRousie, Custom Marketing Solutions
Fulton, NY – As it has for the past 11 years, Oswego County Opportunities’ (OCO) Call-N-Ride provides an invaluable transportation service to Oswego County residents. One of OCO’s Public Transportation Services, Call-N-Ride offers curb-to-curb, low-cost bus service for elderly and special needs individuals within Oswego County. Additionally, individuals and the general public may use the service when public transportation is not readily available.
According to Gary Mashaw, director of transportation services at OCO, Oswego County Call-N-Ride is posting record numbers for usage in 2011. “Over the recent five year period, there has been a 128% increase in usage. We have done more than doubled the ridership, we have given folks freedom and overcome a transportation barrier for those we service through Call-N-Ride.”
Since its inception in 2000, Call-N-Ride has completed thousands of passenger trips as it has brought individuals to medical visits, business appointments and social events. For one remarkable passenger, the Call-N-Ride service has allowed her to continue being a part of the Oswego County Visually Impaired program.
Ruth Kitney has used the Call-N-Ride service since it began. Each month Ruth attends OCVI’s general meeting, leadership committee meeting and book club meeting. Thanks to Call-N-Ride, she has not missed a single meeting. An impressive accomplishment when you consider that Ruth recently gathered with her family, including 12 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren, to celebrate her 100th birthday!
Prior to using Call-N-Ride, Ruth depended on others for her transportation. With Call-N-Ride, Ruth now has the opportunity to travel independently and attend the OCVI meetings that she truly cherishes. “I can’t express the pleasure I receive from being a part of OCVI. I enjoy the many friendships that I have made and look forward to our monthly outings that have allowed me to go places that I would not have been able to otherwise. I appreciate that the Call-N-Ride service allows me to continue being an active member of OCVI,” she said.
Laura Smith of OCVI acknowledged that Ruth’s participation in OCVI is greatly appreciated. “We look to Ruth for her fresh ideas. We appreciate her insight and her years of wisdom that she shares with us. Ruth, like all of our members, enjoys our monthly outings. It provides us with an opportunity to be with people who share similar situations and can understand each other’s concerns. It is because of the Call-N-Ride service that we are able to have these outings. It is a wonderful resource,” said Smith.
To help celebrate Ruth’s 100th birthday, OCO Transit Services Coordinator, Diane Shannon presented her with a special gift of 100 bus tokens courtesy of OCO’s Transportation Services. “I was flabbergasted,” Ruth said. “I never expected such a thing. I can’t say enough about the Call-N-Ride service. The drivers are always so considerate. I appreciate that they help me go from door to door.”
Established in 2000 as the result of a partnership between the Vision Network of Oswego County, Oswego County ARISE, Oswego County Visually Impaired, Oswego County Opportunities and the Oswego County Legislature, the Call-N-Ride service helps individuals who are unable to drive due to vision loss or other situations retain their independence. In the early 2000s budget cuts forced the county to end funding for Call-N-Ride, but the Vision Network managed to keep the service in place through fund raising. In 2005 Constellation Energy began funding the service through corporate grants, which continue to this day. According to Mashaw, the grant funds help defray costs including fuel, which has steadily increased in price for the past few years, and allows the service to keep costs low for the riders, especially those who are on fixed incomes.
Call-N-Ride operates within Oswego County, Monday-Friday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., with the exception of holidays. Call-N-Ride service is available during specific days each week or every other week in zones that have been established by school district. To schedule a ride, those interested may call the toll-free number between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday-Friday. Reservations must be called in at least 3 business days in advance of the need and cancellations must be called in at least 2 hours before the scheduled pickup. Costs range from $2 – $4 each way for the elderly and disabled, depending on distance traveled. Call toll free 1-877-484-3287 for more information,” Mashaw said, “or go to one of these websites: www.oco.org or www.forthebus.org.”
A private, non-profit agency, OCO’s many programs touch the lives of more than 28,000 Oswego County residents each. One of Oswego County’s largest employers, OCO employs more than 650 people and boasts a volunteer force of 1000. Now in its 45th year, OCO continues to build partnerships and is on a roll as it strives to improve the quality of life in Oswego County by helping people, supporting communities and changing lives. For more information, visit OCO’s website at www.oco.org