Senior News: Juneau’s complementary transit system

In this file photo from November 2014, a Care-A-Van driver picks up a person with a wheelchair at Centennial Hall parking lot. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Juneau’s “fixed route” bus system is well-used and efficiently run. For those who need a more personalized form of public transit, Juneau offers two transportation options: Care-A-Van Service and the Taxi Voucher Program.

 

Care-A-Van is primarily for people who are unable to use the Capital Transit bus due to disability. Care-A-Van provides door-to-door service for individual passengers who, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), have equal access to the service regardless of the trip purpose. Any senior citizen (age 60 and over) may also use the Care-A-Van.

Care-A-Van is the paratransit service operated by Southeast Senior Services. Required by the ADA, the Care-A-Van complements the Capital Transit bus system and runs during the same days and hours as the bus system. Unlike the Capital Transit fixed route bus, the Care-A-Van is a “demand response” system and does not run along a fixed route. When an individual requests a ride, they ask for a specific pick up time from a specific location and to be taken to a specific location.

Passengers who have obtained the American Disabilities Act card from Capital Transit have priority service on the Care-A-Van. People may call up to 14 days in advance to reserve their rides. In fact, passengers are expected to schedule their rides at least the day before they will need the ride so that scheduling can be as efficient as possible. People who have ADA cards issued by Capital Transit and who call at least the day ahead, according to the law, will get the ride they want within an hour “window of time.” When the dispatcher/scheduler develops the drivers’ schedules for the next day(s), they are planned so that an individual Care-A-Van vehicle and driver will pick up other passengers along their route. This makes the most of limited resources. Care-A-Van’s phone number is 463-6194. Office staff are available to take calls from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and holidays.

The Taxi Voucher program complements the Care-A-Van program by transporting people who live beyond the Care-A-Van service area, need a ride outside the operational hours of the Capital Transit bus system, or aren’t able to schedule ahead. This program is operated by SAIL (Southeast Alaska Independent Living) in partnership with Juneau Taxi &Tours. The Taxi Vouchers offer discounted taxi rates to seniors and people with disabilities who have limited incomes. Vouchers can be used to pay fares for rides only in Juneau and only with Juneau Taxi &Tours. The Taxi Voucher Program has proven especially handy for those last-minutes trips, for seniors and people with disabilities who have not scheduled their Care-A-Van rides in advance. SAIL’s phone number is 586-4920.

Transportation is an essential part of maintaining one’s independence, preventing isolation, staying connected to the community, and accessing its many resources. The Juneau community offers a number of transportation options for older citizens and people with disabilities of any age. The Capital Transit bus, Care-A-Van and the Taxi Voucher program are three recommended options for folks looking for low cost transportation.


• Senior News is an occassional column written by Marianne Mills, the program director of Southeast Senior Services (SESS) which offers home and community-based services for older Alaskans throughout the region. SESS is a part of Catholic Community Service and assists all persons regardless of their faith.


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