The Village of Wellington is revamping its Senior Transportation Program, allowing more Wellington seniors to ride for free.
The program will now service only seniors 62 and older, but those seniors will no longer have to pay the $4 per ride to use the program. Seniors will also be able to hang onto their vouchers longer and use a convenient new swipe card system to keep track of their rides easier.
“We’ve increased the minimum age from 60 to 62,” Director of Community Services Nicole Evangelista said. “One of the reasons we’re doing that is it will allow everyone in the program to be eligible for a [government] voucher that will mean they don’t have to pay the $4 fee.”
The Senior Transportation Program has been financed by Wellington for many years, with the village picking up $14 of the $18 cost and seniors paying $4 for each ride. But Wellington has used federal Community Development Block Grant money for some seniors, which pays the $4 cost of the program. The federal program requires all participants to be older than 62.
Evangelista said this change should not affect many people now using the program.
“When we looked at the program, we didn’t have many users under 62,” she said. “There are about nine users who will be grandfathered into the program. They will still have to pay the $4, because federal requirements don’t allow us to give them the vouchers for free.”
Seniors will have to provide a copy of a valid photo ID to enroll in the program. It is open only to Wellington residents.
“We have to keep the photocopy on record to prove age verification,” Evangelista explained.
Seniors will still be eligible for up to eight ride vouchers each month, but they will no longer expire at the end of the month. Instead, they will be valid for an entire year.
“We were issuing vouchers that weren’t getting used and would expire at the end of each month,” Evangelista said. “We found that seniors like to hold onto the vouchers in case they have an emergency and need a ride. This change will allow them to save the vouchers. Instead of expiring each month, they can hold onto them for up to a year from the date they are issued.”
Each senior in the program will still receive only eight vouchers at a time, Evangelista said. If they are used within a month, they will be refilled the following month. Otherwise, they will be refilled when they are all used.
“Hopefully that will allow us to be able to increase the number of rides we have and not tie up passes that aren’t being used,” she said.
Keeping track of the vouchers will be easier with a new swipe card system, Evangelista added. The system goes live in October, and each senior will receive a swipe card that can be replenished digitally.
“They won’t have to wait for the mail to get their vouchers,” she said. “We can automatically renew their cards from the office.”
Wellington Cab, which provides the rides, will train their drivers to use the cards and aid seniors.
Seniors can sign up for the program by contacting Wellington’s Neighborhood Services Office at (561) 791-4000.