Many of our communities’ older adults are unable to access transportation for several reasons. Some can no longer drive safely. Others can no longer afford to maintain a car and pay for insurance. Sometimes a person is temporarily unable to drive due to surgery or illness. Whatever the reason, losing the ability to drive becomes a barrier to receiving vital services such as going to doctors and shopping for medicine and food. Day to day activities normally managed on their own, like going to a doctor, grocery shopping, attending church, visiting friends and family all become impossible. This can lead to isolation, depression, and overall decline in health and quality of life.

We are determined to eliminate the barriers that keep seniors and disabled people from accessing reliable, affordable transportation in order for them to receive crucial services and having some measure of independence and dignity.

Transportation has always been at the top of the list of Senior Citizen priorities in Klickitat County. At every planning meeting it is always made clear. Seniors feel that loss of transportation is the biggest threat to their independence in our big rural county. Getting older means facing the inevitable time when we can no longer drive safely. At first night driving, busy traffic, and long trips become difficult. Eventually, if we live long enough, the safety of others and ourselves demands that we give up driving altogether. Those who have never had strong driving skills face this time sooner than those with a lifetime of safe driving habits to fall back on.

Drivers & Vehicles

We provide transportation in vans when practical. Vans are perfect for taking seniors to the meal site and shopping. All of our vehicles are equipped with wheelchair lifts so that people who depend on wheelchairs can be comfortably and safely transported. We often use Volunteer Drivers to provide trips to medical appointments or whenever it is more cost-effective. These volunteers use their own vehicle and are reimbursed for mileage.

All of our drivers, paid and volunteer, are screened for suitability and safe driving skills. They receive instruction in assisting passengers as needed. Volunteer vehicles are required to be in good repair and are inspected by management staff. Paid drivers receive additional training and are covered by mandatory drug testing requirements.

Program Goal

The goal of Senior Transportation is to make sure that alternative means of transportation are available so that no one is prevented from living independently because of the lack of basic transportation. We can’t match the independence provided by a car in the driveway raring to go, but we can make sure that senior’s basic transportation needs are met. Many enjoy the sociability of riding in our vehicles as they do their shopping and errands.

Essential & Nonessential Trips

The terms of our contract with the Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities of Southwest Washington (AAADSW) define "essential transportation" as trips to our meal sites, trips to medical destinations, shopping, and social/financial trips to banks and the post office, etc. Trips to other destinations are possible through grants from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), contract with the Medicaid Transportation Brokerage and support from the Klickitat County solid waste revenue.

Medicaid Transportation

Medicaid Transportation is provided to those who are eligible for Medical Assistance through the Medicaid Program. Since many Medicaid recipients are senior citizens, providing service to them under Medicaid Transportation makes our other funding sources stretch further.

Public Transportation

There are many people under 60 who confront the same mobility problems as senior citizens. Some people begin having medical problems considered typical of senior citizens in their 50s. The physically and mentally disabled are often not able to drive. Their ability to live independently depends on access to transportation. Young people cannot drive, and when they get a little older, they may not be able to afford a car, insurance, and operating costs to get them to their first job or to community college. People taking certain medications are not supposed to drive, nor are people whose license has been suspended. Some families may have a car, but it is in use taking a breadwinner to work, leaving the rest of the family without transportation.

Senior Services has been able to get Washington State Department of Transportation grant funding which allows us to provide transportation to all those needing it. Providing transportation to the community also helps pay the considerable overhead expenses of meeting requirements for drug testing, training, and vehicle maintenance. It also allows us to have dispatchers and drivers available Monday through Friday so that we are able to meet the needs of seniors and other Klickitat County Citizens.