TRIP-Link available for seniors, persons with disabilities, outside of Link’s service area

CHELAN & DOUGLAS COUNTIES - We all know there are older adults, people who are ill, persons with disabilities and isolated residents in our rural areas of Chelan and Douglas counties. Many of these folks are in great need of transportation services.  Link Transit has been thinking about different ways that service might be provided.
In February of this year, Link’s newly funded program, TRIP-Link (Transportation Reimbursement Intercommunity Program), opened its doors.  Its mission? To provide volunteer driver services for seniors and persons with disabilities living outside Link Transit’s current service area and who have no other transportation option for getting to essential services. It is easy to use, reliable and helps to keep our more rural senior and disabled population from being isolated or homebound. TranCare, an independent nonprofit Medicaid transportation broker, was contracted to administer the new program.  
The difference between TRIP-Link and other volunteer driver programs is that the rider is in control of who drives.  When approved for service, applicants receive a welcome package and recruit their own volunteer drivers. The qualified applicant may then travel as needed, submit mileage reimbursement requests (based on a “mileage bank”), and receive mileage reimbursement payments which they distribute to their volunteer driver.  Riders gain a sense of ownership and a feeling of being part of the success of their program.  Meanwhile, the riders also gain access to critical medical appointments and essential services to include more socialization and less isolation.
In 2019 the Link Transit Board of Directors approved a budget to create a pilot volunteer driver program for persons over 65 or disabled, living outside of the current Link Transit service area.  The “boundary” area, Chelan and Douglas counties, for Link Transit, totals approximately 4,800 square miles (U.S. Census Bureau).  Most of which is rural, very rural.
Through community surveys and research one of the largest gaps in transportation services identified was people living in more rural areas who are isolated and vulnerable.  There was an obvious need to assist folks needing to get to medical and other essential services from the most outlying areas of our communities.  The cost of missed medical appointments and non-essential ER trips alone exceeds millions of dollars a year.  Our rural areas lack most any type of transportation service except perhaps a personal vehicle.  So the question was, how to serve those people living outside Link Transit services area.
The TRIP (Transportation Reimbursement and Information Project) program in Riverside, CA was the perfect model.  TRIP has been determined to be the least costly and most effective way to provide transportation services anywhere.  This specific volunteer driver program can be administered as either an independent service or as an addition to a menu of services Link Transit already provides.  Most importantly, TRIP in Riverside delivers a high level of client satisfaction.  In a recent survey 99.81% of respondents said they would recommend TRIP service to someone that needs assisted transportation. The TRIP volunteer driver transportation method is empowering to riders and drivers, while being both efficient and cost effective.
If you know someone living in rural Chelan or Douglas county or to find out more about TRIP-Link coverage area and services call TranCare at (509) 664-7630.  You can also visit their website at www.trancarerides.org or email triplink@trancarerides.org.  :
Potential TRIP-Link service areas: Wenatchee Heights, Pangborn Field , Plain and Fish Lake, Rural areas of Waterville , Squilchuck Road , Rural areas of Chelan/Manson, Bridgeport and Mansfield.      
About TranCare:TranCare is a 501c(3) and was established in 1969. TranCare currently acts as the subcontractor Medicaid Volunteer Agency for non-emergent medical transportation. TranCare now operates, TRIP-Link, a pilot volunteer driver program in partnership with Link Transit.
TranCare's mission is to improve people's lives by providing safe, low cost and efficient volunteer transportation throughout the northwest.
 

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