City, county officials work to meet transportation need of disabled

A solution may be at hand for the transportation issues disabled Craig residents are facing.

The county, city, and private institutions have all discussed the issue and agree it is something that needs to be reviewed, and are looking at the various options and funding possibilities.

"In our files, we have identified 50 people, who because of various disabilities, cannot drive," said Evelyn Tileston, Director of the Independent Life Center. "All of them are under the age of 62, which basically eliminates them from using the senior bus because of the way the senior bus service is prioritized. Right now, it isn't possible for the disabled to get serviced."

What is needed, is a bus that is wheelchair accessible. The senior citizen van is currently the only publicly-funded vehicle equipped to deal with the needs of the disabled.

There has been a committee formed by County Administrative Assistant Deborah Murray, which includes Commissioner Les Hampton, City Manager Jim Ferree, Tileston and Mary Peer from Moffat County Social Services.

"We are exploring many ideas and options," Tileston said. "This committee is helpful because it allows us to explore options that are available to government agencies only.

"One of the things we here at the Independent Life Center can do is to raise some funds. We gather signatures for the City Market Cares program to raise money for the purchase of a van. After that, the money possibly would go to help keep the price of rides reasonable," Tileston said.

City Market Cares is a corporate program. The corporation annually designates a sum of money to be divided up among charities. The donations are made to various non-profit organizations, and what each organization gets is based upon how many signatures that non-profit collects and how much the people who signed up buy at their local City Market store.

The City Market Cares program is ongoing, and Tileston is always looking to gather new signatures, or any ideas people might have on how to best address this need.

As for the city and county, the process is just beginning.

"We are just in the preliminary stages of exploring funding options," Ferree said. "I am investigating one avenue concerning transit funds available under a competitive grant program. I have the literature and am looking into the particular requirements. Also, we want to make sure we are fully utilizing the buses we already have; I plan to make sure this is a necessary move."

Murray is in the same position.

"What we are trying to do now is look at all the solutions, and make sure we opt for the correct choice," she said. "So far, things have been really positive, working with Evelyn and the city to look at the options."

One idea all parties concerned agree is intriguing, is the idea of having Diamond Cab and Courier taxi service running the disabled bus service. The logistics of if and how this proposal would work have not been organized, but the concept is looked on by all as a positive solution.

"I would want to talk to Diamond Cab and talk to the users [of the service] to be sure that this is what they would want," Ferree said.

Tileston is excited about the possibility.

"Basically, it's a wonderful idea. Our center could act as a clearinghouse for those with a legitimate need. We could organize a photo I.D., for example, that would verify that a person is eligible to use the bus run by the taxi service. And this plan, it seems to me, would be great one because the bus would basically be available 24-hours a day because the taxi service would be operating it."

No one has officially approached Diamond Cab, nor has it been determined that this is the best option, but Mary Ann Doehring, an owner of Diamond Cab and Courier, said, "Anything is possible. We are always open to ideas to help the community."

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