BY CHERYL SLAVIN
On November 13, Rockland County rolled out the latest additions to its TRIPS paratransit service fleet: five brand new state of the art mobility vehicles that are anticipated to provide increased efficiency, flexibility and versatility to the current convoy of 15 passenger mini-buses.
The new MV-1 vehicles are structured much more like SUVs. With their smaller size, they provide a greater versatility than the mini-buses; for instance, they can back-up while in service, which the buses cannot, and therefore can reach previously inaccessible residents on tight-turn cul-de-sacs, dead-ends and some condominium and townhouse driveways. Additionally, the new vehicles get better gas mileage, are easier to navigate, and will be available to provide more individual service to riders.
The vehicles are also equipped with the latest in paratranist technology. They will contain, among other amenities, an automated side-entry ramp with two deployable modes, a fully retractable wheelchair restraint system, extra wide access doors, nearly five feet of headroom, and interior seating for up to three ambulatory passengers and one wheelchair passenger. The new design also allows for wheelchair riders to sit in the front seat facing forward, something not available on the mini-buses.
In his introductory remarks at the roll-out, County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef noted that the MV-1 purchase did not require the use of any county tax dollars. Rather, it has been entirely funded by an allocation of capital funds from the New York State Department of Transportation. In addition to the five new vehicles, the county will also be purchasing seven 15-passenger busses in 2014 and four more in 2015, which will enable the county transportation department to replace the entire fleet over the next two years.
Thomas Vanderbeek, County Public Transportation Commissioner, lauded the sleek new design and state of the art technology which will permit greater access to a larger portion of Rockland’s senior and disabled residents. “Unlike last year, when snow piled up on the sidewalk prevented us from being able to reach a resident in need, these new vehicles have ramps that can go up and over obstacles like curbs, puddles and snow banks. We won’t have to face a situation again where we can’t reach a rider.” Attendees at the roll-out were treated to a demonstration of the new ramp and other features.
Rockland’s TRIPS paratransit buses provide curbside-to- curbside transportation services to residents with disabilities or seniors over the age of 60 who find it difficult or impossible to use municipal, fixed-route bus service. Applications to apply for regular service can be found on the department’s website at rocklandgov.com/departments/public-transportation. Residents can also call the department to arrange for individual trips at 845-364-8747 between the hours of 7:30 am and 5:00 pm Monday through Friday. For more information residents can also call 845-364-3333. Tickets can be purchased individually, or in books of ten at a discounted price.