Lake County, Ohio-based Laketran is replacing a portion of its Dial-a-Ride fleet with the purchase of 12 new paratransit buses.
Laketran’s 2015 Dial-a-Ride ridership increased 7% over 2014 and has seen an additional 14% increase during the first quarter of 2016.
Most people give up driving around age 85. Men tend to outlive their driving ability by about six years and women, by about 10 years. It is just the beginning of a span of 25 to 30 years where the baby boomer generation will demand more transportation services, the agency reported.
Ben Capelle, Laketran’s Deputy GM said, “More seniors naturally translates to more medical trips and that’s exactly what we’re seeing with our door-to-door Dial-a-Ride service. The new buses will allow Laketran to maintain reliable Dial-a-Ride service as we move forward with serving Lake County’s growing senior population.”
The new buses are equipped with a wheelchair lift, fold-up seats to accommodate up to four wheelchairs, slip-resistant flooring, an electronic transit door, and a central heating and cooling unit in response to customer concerns about vehicles being too hot or too cold.
Additional safety amenities include clearance lights, Mor-Ryde suspension, and safety cameras.
“The new buses will also have electronic fareboxes,” explains Julia Schick, director of communications and marketing, “Through our Seniors on the Go program we have learned caregivers like the option to pre-purchase Smart Cards so the senior or person with disability they’re caring for doesn’t have worry about exact change. With the Smart Card, riders simply tap the card and a fare is deducted.”
The Seniors on the Go program provides families a personalized introduction to Laketran services with ongoing assistance for trip planning and various discounted fare programs.
To receive favorable pricing, five regional public transportation systems including Laketran, Medina County Transit, Akron METRO, Geauga County Transit, and Portage Area Regional Transit (PARTA) formed a consortium to purchase new paratransit vehicles. The bus procurement was awarded to Transportation Equipment Sales Corp. (TESCO) at a price of $92,000 per vehicle.
Laketran was awarded federal funding through NOACA’s 5310 program which provides funding to improve mobility for seniors and people with disabilities. The grant provided 80% federal funding for the buses and Laketran provided the 20 percent match from local sales tax revenue.