Rockland County officials demoed five new vehicles that will
join the TRIPS paratransit fleet by December 1st. The specialized SUVs, which were purchased
with approximately $230,000 of state funds, will make it easier for disabled
residents to use the TRIPS service within the county.
The new mobility vehicles include a longer ramp that can extend over curbs, snow banks or puddles to allow wheelchair users to get on board. Transportation Commissioner Thomas Vanderbeek said the two-stage ramp was one of the most valuable features of the new vehicles.
The blue and white vehicles have doors that open on both sides for those passengers who do not need ramps and are configured to allow one wheelchair passenger to sit in the front next to the driver. The vehicles can accommodate three ambulatory passengers and one standard size wheelchair passenger. TRIPS is the paratransit bus service for residents with physical or mental disabilities or who are aged 60 or older.
County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef said the new vehicles are more efficient to operate. He said their addition to the TRIPS fleet is progress toward the county’s goal of modernizing it.
“This is 21st century public transportation mode,” he said. “And I think it’s just terrific.”
Vanderbeek discussed some of the other advantages including ABS braking, traction control, state of the art technology, better gas mileage, low floor and high ceiling, on Wednesday.
“These buses offer much increased flexibility to our disabled riders and our riders in general. Half of our rides are one on one off,” said Vanderbeek. “We pick people up, we drop them off as opposed to group rides, which of course we need the larger buses for. These are much more efficient handling the on/off rides and much more flexible.”
The smaller size vehicles fit well with TRIPS curbside to curbside service and will enable drivers to locations quicker and easier.
“Most importantly it allows us to go to locations we have never gone before,” said Vanderbeek. “There are many locations that are not accessible to the larger buses such as dead end streets, apartment and condominium complexes, places like that. These buses because of their smaller wheelbase and increased visibility have the ability to turn and move around in much tighter spaces. So it gets us much more closer to our ridership and much more closer pickup/drop-off to our specified location.”
Approximately 50 percent of TRIPS ridership is classified as ADA. Ridership for regular TRIPS and ADA TRIPS is about 70,000 annually with its 20 drivers making about 350 trips daily. TRIPS has 27 vehicles in its fleet. A 10-ticket book costs $12 and they can be purchased from drivers or from the public transportation department in Pomona. More information about the service can be found here.