By Lisa Capobianco
The Southington Town Council voted unanimously last week to participate in a regional grant that will help evaluate the efficiency of the Dial-A-Ride bus service, which provides transportation at no charge for residents age 55 and over as well as people with disabilities.
Although the grant does not have a required match yet, Town Manager Garry Brumback said it will help make Southington’s current Dial-A-Ride program more efficient, with the possibility of integrating aspects of it with surrounding communities.
“This is an opportunity for us to evaluate the regionalization of some of our bus services in dispatching and connectivity and so forth,” said Brumback during a recent Town Council meeting. “It is going to be looking at how we transport, how we connect, and then how we dispatch.”
Dial-A-Ride provides transportation to and from doctor appointments, and also offers rides to various shopping locations on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, according to the Southington Calendar House’s website. The service requires advance notice, two days prior to an appointment when possible. From Monday through Friday, Dial-A-Ride also provides transportation to and from the Calendar House for activities and programs.
“I am proud of the bus service,” said Mark White, chairman of the Senior Advisory Board, adding that the service has doubled its ridership with the growing number of senior citizens in town. “It is working well, but it is growing.”
During the Town Council meeting, White expressed his support for Southington to participate in the grant, stating that one current issue of the system is the unpredictability of doctor appointment returns.
“We can do a lot to be more efficient,” said White during the meeting. “We don’t often know when someone goes for a medical appointment …when that person is going to get out of the doctor’s office.”