Transportation for seniors on the Key Peninsula

Sara Thompson

For many seniors, The Mustard Seed Project and Key Peninsula Community Services have some great options for transportation.

First, there is a wheelchair-accessible mini-shuttle. In 2007, The Mustard Seed Project joined the Pierce County Coordinated Transportation Coalition. The organization was encouraged to apply for stimulus funds to lease a van, which added to transportation options but was not set up for physically challenged riders.

There is now a wheelchair-accessible mini-shuttle through a pilot program (Community Solutions) with Pierce Transit. The pilot program requires for 25 percent of all the users to be ADA-eligible.

There are regularly scheduled runs taking riders from home to the senior lunches at Key Peninsula Community Services, the Senior Center in Gig Harbor and the Silver Sneakers exercise program at the YMCA. In addition, riders can schedule the shuttle for medical appointments as needed. The shuttle provides a total of about 100 rides per month.

In addition, The Mustard Seed Project provides a volunteer driver program. Catholic Community Services had a volunteer driver program in Tacoma but with no local volunteers, the time and cost for drivers were prohibitive.

Edie Morgan, executive director of The Mustard Seed Project, began local recruitment and by 2008 had a core of seven or eight to begin driving. It has since grown to a pool of 12.

The volunteer program was initially coordinate by Catholic Community Services in Tacoma but The Mustard Seed Project took over after the first year.

Catholic Community Services covers much of the cost of the coordinator through a contract and then provides background checks on the drivers, insurance and training as well as mileage costs. Those who get rides are not charged, though they are welcome to give a donation.

The significant limitation of the program is that it can only cover those clients with limited incomes. “This is a problem we still contend with,”Morgan said. “The cost of transportation in our community is very high and we need to find a way to provide rides at an affordable rate for those who can afford it.”

Currently about 125 rides per month are scheduled.

Key Peninsula Community Services has had shuttle van for nearly 10 years, thanks to an initial grant from Boeing. Maintenance and insurance is covered by funds raised through donations and grants.

It is used for first and third Tuesday shopping and for field trips. Riders call the Senior Center to arrange to be picked up at home in the morning, and are taken to the Port Orchard Fred Meyers, pharmacies as needed and then lunch together at a location of their choice.

Field trips have included day trips to Mount St. Helens, Portland and theater in Tacoma. The van is for the use of those 55 and older. Penny Gazabat, director of Community Services, noted that those using the service must be relatively able-bodied.

Need a ride?

Are you a senior or an adult with disabilities? To arrange transportation using the mini-shuttle or the volunteer driver program, or to find out about other transportation options, call The Mustard Seed Project at 884-9814.

Are you 55 or older? Need to go shopping? To arrange transportation for first and third Tuesday senior shopping to Port Orchard call Key Peninsula Community Services at 884-4440.