The Coastal Regional Commission will receive a $210,000 grant through the Federal Transit Administration as part of its Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative.
The FTA website calls VTCLI a federally coordinated partnership intended to help veterans as well as active-duty service members and their families arrange local transportation services for work, school or health-care appointments.
According to Barbara Hurst, CRC transportation director, the grant will be used to expand the CRC’s one-call center into a one-call/one-click center by building a new website, Coastal Regional Coaches, with hyperlinks to CRC’s website and other resources. Veterans will be able to request or cancel transportation services online, she said.
“We average over 500 calls a day,” Hurst said. “This will be a new component, an additional resource. Since most people today use the Internet, this will make it easier to schedule or cancel transportation services. We’re also working on an interactive voice response system so users can receive a reminder notice the night before about a transportation reservation and what time the bus will be there.”
She said the CRC’s public transit system covers rural areas in 10 coastal counties. Anyone needing a ride must call the day before to schedule a trip to and from the appointment.
An IVR would greatly expand services because it operates 24-hours a day, seven days a week and can prioritize an individual’s call according to his or her status, Hurst said.
Although the CRC already provides services on a smaller scale, Hurst said it’s not adequate for what’s actually needed.
Hurst said CRC’s fleet of coaches and vanpools program includes 85 eight-to-14-passenger buses that are Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.
“Our buses make 1,200 trips a day,” she said, noting the annual fuel costs are about $1.4 million. “The Georgia Department of Transportation has given us a green light to look into alternative fuels to lower annual fuel costs. Whether that turns out to be propane or natural gas, it benefits everybody if it lower costs.”