Chatham-Kent is in the midst of evaluating its public transit needs and wishes, but with the help of Family Service Kent and the province, it has quietly gone ahead to help those most in need get around the municipality.
The municipality partnered with Family Service Kent, which currently operates the CHAPS transportation program for people with mobility issues, to roll out the adVANtage Transportation Service. It is currently just for people on Ontario Works, ODSP and clients of the Chatham-Kent Children’s Treatment Centre.
The van has space to accommodate seven walk-on users, or two people in wheelchairs.
It will be open to the general public this summer, but, again, it’s targeted to help those of limited means.
The van can be booked to provide rides around the municipality at between 40 and 80 cents a kilometre, depending on your income level.
Its trial runs have proven quite popular, and that popularity continues to grow.
Staff with Family Service Kent said they anticipate having 30 clients use the service this week alone, and that is only for people referred from the three participating programs.
Obviously, there is a need for an affordable, reliable transportation service that works door-to-door rather than relying on the CK Transit schedule and designated stops.
Working with people with high needs and limited resources, Family Service Kent saw a need in the community and have worked to fill it, bringing on the program slowly to ensure it works and is sustainable for them and their clients.
The provincial grant funding this program is for four years, so adVANtage isn’t going away any time soon.
In rural communities, transportation is always an issue, as most destinations aren’t always within walking distance and not everyone is mobile or can afford a vehicle. In Chatham-Kent, that is certainly the case.
For people to have a safe, reliable, affordable way to get to appointments or shopping is a huge deal in our municipality and the adVANtage program seems to fit the bill. The only problem may be that it becomes too popular before they can get the funding for an additional vehicle to keep up with the demand.