County Approves Plan For Senior Transit

SNOW HILL – County officials approved an over-expenditure request that will allow the Worcester County Commission on Aging to help fulfil transportation needs for local seniors.

The Worcester County Commissioners last week approved a $8,840 over-expenditure request from the Worcester County Commission on Aging (WorCOA) that will allow the agency to fill transportation gaps for seniors.

“Shore Transit has not been able to meet the demands of the senior population on the north end of the county,” said Rob Hart, executive director of the commission. “We’ve been working with them now for about six months to come up with a new plan but at this point it’s our last resort to come to you so these seniors can get to their medical appointments.”

According to Hart, an increased demand from the public has made it hard for Shore Transit to meet the needs of local seniors. Though the company provides curb to curb service for the elderly and disabled customers who call and schedule pickup, Hart said Shore Transit had had to turn down some transport requests in recent months.

“In my current position I have to do something to help these seniors,” he said.

Because WorCOA now offers the Community for Life program, which includes transportation services for members, Hart said that had helped meet demand for those in the north end of the county who weren’t being served by Shore Transit. He added that WorCOA would be willing to take on senior transportation for Shore Transit in Worcester County going forward.

“This doesn’t seem to be a problem they’re able to get their hands around right now,” he said. “We would be willing to move forward and try and provide the transportation ourselves.”a

He indicated that if that were to happen, state and county funding currently provided to Shore Transit for that purpose could be directed to WorCOA.

Commissioner Ted Elder said he felt as if the idea of WorCOA taking on some of Shore Transit’s responsibilities had been dropped on Worcester County abruptly.

“I just didn’t appreciate being blindsided,” Elder said.

Harold Higgins, the county’s chief administrative officer, said he’d planned to bring the issue to the commissioners during the budget process.

Hart said WorCOA was open to discussion regarding the plan. While he believes Shore Transit would be the best organization to provide transportation, he stressed that his agency was tasked with making sure the needs of local seniors were met.

“We get at least four calls a week saying ‘I can’t get to a doctor’s appointment because Shore Transit is turning us down,’” Hart said. “As you all know if these seniors don’t get to doctor’s appointments they’re going to cost us more in the future. We try to help prevent that.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

Alternative Text

Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.