MONEE – Will County and Regional Transportation Authority officials on Friday lauded the success of a transportation program for senior citizens and people with disabilities.
The “Will-Ride” program serves an average of 1,000 riders a month in eastern Will County and county officials are hoping the program will expand to other areas besides the seven townships it currently serves. The program was launched in 2013 after years of research into the potential need for the service in Will County.
“We’re celebrating that we have seven townships working together and partnering and we have many more that are on the way hopefully and are going to join us soon,” said Nick Palmer, chief of staff for the Will County Executive office.
A past transportation option for residents in the eastern end of the county was Southland Senior Services in Monee, which closed in 2010 because of financial difficulties. County and township officials met with PACE and RTA to find a way to keep the buses running.
A bus service was still needed for many senior citizens to get to doctor appointments, Monee Township supervisor Donna Dettbarn said.
“The goal all along was to have an integrated bus service for eastern Will County that provided for and under the auspices of the county. We didn’t see it would work any other way,” she said.
County officials received two RTA grants to create the service. The “Will-Ride” program services Frankfort, Green Garden, Peotone, Monee, Will, Crete and Washington townships. It also services any location within a 10-mile radius of the border of those townships.
Eligible residents who can use the program include senior citizens 60 years old or older, residents with disabilities and those needing transportation for work. People can get rides within their township for $2 one way or $4 for a round trip. Rides outside the township are $4 one way or $8 round trip.
RTA Board Chairman Kirk Dillard said at Friday’s celebration the “Will-Ride” program serves as a “lifeline” for senior citizens and people with disabilities who need to see their friends, family and children.
Dillard said the service also “gets them to appointments with physicians and health care professionals.”
Frankfort Township Supervisor Jim Moustis, who also is a county board member, said the service helps people become more independent.
“It’s not even the ride. It gives them the independence,” he said. “They don’t have to ask people. Just the fact they can do it on their own, it makes them feel better.”