It might be a lot easier to catch a ride in Hillsdale by the end of the 2017 fiscal year.
The Dial-A-Ride Transportation busing service has partnered with local private non-profit Key Opportunities to start a Mobility Management program, a new measure aimed at centralizing the city’s transportation. Bonnie Tew, Finance Director of the City of Hillsdale, said the strategy is funded by a $35,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation.
Tew said Hillsdale is working toward the installment of this program to improve citizens’ understanding of the city’s transportation options.
Tew confirmed Dial-A-Ride has requested $200,000 in MDOT grants to replace two new vehicles for Dial-A-Ride’s use, but said this is not out of the ordinary — the organization applies for this kind of funding on an annual basis.
Boyce said she initially learned of Mobility Management at a conference on the program hosted by MDOT last year.
“We are hoping to be able to provide information regarding transportation, and connect people to others with transportation through the Mobility Management program,” Key Opportunities Executive Director Julie Boyce said.
The Mobility Management team is currently in the planning stages of how to communicate the information they have compiled to the community. Other counties have tried putting the information online, but that method did not improve the transportation communication, based on responses in the respective areas. She said they hope to have something put together and in action within the next few months.
Boyce said one facet of the new Mobility Management plan may be recruiting volunteers to help drive residents, though she is not sure what that would look like.
So far, Boyce said Key Opportunities has compiled all of the information of the city’s available transportation, which includes their system, Dial-A-Ride’s system, and the driver the hospital has. Key Opportunities runs routes three times a day to all parts of Hillsdale County for work-related and non-emergent medical needs.
“Nothing we provide is a permanent fix,” she said.
Boyce said most of the rides Key Opportunities provides transport local veterans to the Veterans Affairs Hospitals in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Jackson, Michigan. The Hillsdale Hospital has also recently hired a new driver who gives rides to patients without their own transportation.
Dial-A-Ride provides transportation to 150 – 180 citizens everyday, and operates within city limits. Dial-A-Ride dispatcher Susan Kehn said that in addition to its door-to-door services, Dial-A-Ride also drives children to school.
“If Key Opportunities are going to compile something like this, I think that would be a great idea,” Kehn said. “We aren’t available 24/7, just like most places.”