By Rusty Bradshaw
A switch in Dial-A-Ride providers may have caused some frustration for riders in other areas, but the transition has been fairly smooth in Sun City.
Sun City Community Assistance Network officials reported few complaints were called into their office, 10195 W. Coggins Drive. The resource networking agency is something of a conduit for Dial-A-Ride as it provides free taxi tickets to qualified residents.
“There have been two complaints about the length of time waiting on hold to schedule a ride, but nothing else,” Dick Jorgenson, Sun City CAN taxi ticket coordinator, stated in an email. “Valley Metro provided us with a contact person for future complaints but so far we haven’t had any.”
Changes to the Valley Metro Dial-a-Ride program began July 1. The first change was a new name, now called Valley Metro Paratransit, according to Hugh Duncan, Sun City CAN board president. Transdev provides the service, he added. For service, residents can call 602-716-2200.
The Dial-A-Ride service area remains the same — Sun City, Sun City West, Surprise, El Mirage and Youngtown for non-Americans with Disabilities Act riders. ADA riders will also continue to have the same service area as had been in place before the change, Mr. Duncan explained. The cost per ride also remains $4 per one-way trip.
Riders in Surprise were not as fortunate. Regular users of the program had trouble loading money on their Ride Choice cards by July 1, in part because the calls for and administration of those cards was handled by the MJ Management office in Baltimore.
As of July 14, resident Joe Urshan had not received his card, though he was told it will arrive early this week. Councilman Roland Winters and many others received the cards four days before the program and faced various roadblocks trying to load money on it.
“The whole rollout was absolutely terrible,” Mr. Winters said.
AAA Cab officials, Surprise service providers, had no idea about the program until the morning Mr. Winters made an appointment and had no machine to swipe a Ride Choice card in their cabs, the councilman said. Conversely, he added, Discount Cab had the card swiper on day one, was well aware of the program and has been providing the service.
However, Sun City do not have the varied programs available to Surprise riders, including a regular bus route to the city’s senior center. While non-ADA residents can still use the Paratransit program, the largest segment of users most likely are the ADA riders, who are eligible for free taxi tickets through Sun City CAN.
The vehicles used by Valley Metro Paratransit will include vans and minivans, which feature Valley Metro colors and are 100 percent wheelchair-accessible, Mr. Duncan said. The taxicab service is provided by AAA Transportation Services and are identified by Valley Metro signs on the vehicle, he added.
More changes and improvements are expected in the next several months, according to Valley Metro.
“(So far) we have not been advised of any other changes,” Mr. Jorgenson stated. “(A) mention in the CAN newsletter was just a pass along from material received from Valley Metro that improvements could be expected as the new system got underway.
Sun City CAN currently have 64 people enrolled in the free taxi ticket program.