Photo Caption: An accessible van used for AODT services.
For people without a vehicle, finding available transportation in Athens County can be difficult. Finding accessible transportation is even more problematic. Coordination and collaboration between agencies, government officials, and local community members can be a solution to helping people in need of specialized transportation get to work, medical appointments, social services, leisure activities and shopping.
The Athens Mobility Management program has been working with the Athens County Board of Developmental Disabilities, as well as other local organizations, for several years exploring how to add additional transportation options for residents of Athens County.
Athens County Board of Developmental Disabilities (ACBDD), Developmental Disabilities Council of Ohio (DD Council) and Hocking Athens Perry Community Action (HAPCAP) partnered to work towards affordable and accessible transportation for persons with disabilities in Athens County.
Through a 5-year grant from the DD Council, with additional funding support from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation of Nelsonville, HAPCAP began the planning process for a pilot on demand transit service to bring affordable and accessible transportation service when and where residents want to go.
The initial planning team consisted of Eric Young, Butch Withem, and Dennis Lehman of ACBDD, Marty Zinn of HAVAR, and Lantz Repp with HAPCAP. The goal was to provide accessible minivan transit to individuals in the DD community outside the normal ACBDD structured programs. Questionnaires were sent out by ACBDD/HAPCAP, asking for input about when, where, why, and what the special needs might be, to help the planning team determine what services are most needed.
On November 8, 2012 Athens On Demand Transit (AODT) began operations as a pilot program, providing affordable and accessible transportation to persons with disabilities in Athens County. Additionally, elderly and low-income residents can access AODT for transport to and from medical appointments. The service operates Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
To use the service residents must pre-registration by calling 740-597-2404. Cliff Warren, transit supervisor, completes the registration information. They are then able to begin using the service. Rides must be scheduled 24 hours in advance by calling the number above between 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on weekdays. If someone has special travel needs or requires a personal care attendant it should be mentioned during the registration process. The fare is $2.00 per one-way trip. AODT offers travel-training services to familiarize riders before or during the initial ride.
Athens On Demand Transit drivers are carefully trained and provide professional and courteous service. Drivers carry cell phones and each rider is given a "Courtesy Card" at their drop off point in case there is a need to contact the driver due to an appointment running late or if rider have questions about the location or time of the scheduled pickup. Special pickup or drop-off instructions are followed for each rider, if needed.
AODT currently has two minivans and the use of ACBDD vehicles during specific times. Three new accessible minivans are on order and scheduled to arrive early this year.
Interested users are encouraged to call or stop by the AODT office, located at 1015 E. State St., to discover how their service can support the user's travel needs. For other information on transportation in Athens County check out
www.athensmobility.com. Also, check out www.hapcap.org for information on Hocking • Athens • Perry Community Action.