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New program offers rides to local residents
$3 one-way trip available to anyone; must schedule ride a day in advance
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    Need a ride?  Can’t afford a taxi? Coastal Regional Coaches offers an affordable alternative for those who don’t own a car or cannot drive.
    For just $3 for a one-way trip, homebound residents – or anyone else, for that matter – can go just about anywhere – to the store, to visit friends, to a movie or out to eat – providing  they call a day ahead of time to schedule the trip.
    They can also travel to other counties, but as the van passes through other counties, the $3 fee is charged for each county line, said Jeffrey Baker, regional manager for Coastal Regional Coaches.
    The hours of operation are from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, he said. Fares must be paid at boarding or beforehand, and drivers cannot make change or extend credit.
    Packages from a shopping trip are allowed, but only as many as a person can carry. Service animals are permitted, too.
    Bulloch County was “the last to join” the program, Baker said. But he is glad to see the service in Bulloch, because it should help many people, he said. “We’re really excited about it. Bulloch County is picking up and other counties are really involved.”
    “There are so many people who can’t go anywhere. Older people, in wheelchairs, but now they can go to the store, one way, only $3.”
    Of course, trips back home can be scheduled too, he said.
    The program is funded by federal, local and state governments, but the ride fees go to pay the drivers, he said.
    A group of residents of Westwood Nursing Home recently took a trip to play bingo. “You think they weren’t tickled?” he said. 
    Paul Turner, service coordinator for Statesboro Summit Apartments, said the service has already made a significant impact in the lives of residents here.
    “Out of 100 residents, maybe eight people have cars,” he said. While local transports services exist for medical appointments, there have been few options for those who want to go shopping or meet friends for lunch.
    A cab fare of $25 is expensive, but a $3 one-way ride is more affordable, he said. “It actually empowers them – they can handle a $3 ride to Walmart.
    Even other residents with cars charge much more than that, he said.
    Those living in homes like the Statesboro Summit Apartments are residents of “independent living, not like a retirement home with activities and games,” he said.”This gets them up and out – they can go (out to eat.) It’s a huge, huge thing.”
    Rules for the rides include no alcohol or drugs, no smoking, eating or drinking, no inappropriate behavior, and be on time. If a driver comes to pick someone up and waits more than five minutes, he will not be directed to return.
    The transport van cannot be used for sending children to school either, according to the Coastal Regional Coaches brochure.
    For more information call 10866-543-6744, or click on “transport services” at Internet website
    Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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