East Valley Dial-a-Ride will change how it arranges its 200,000 trips a year starting this summer, and transit officials are reaching out to patrons to display new vehicles and how the service will operate.
Valley Metro says the move will cut costs by one-third while allowing more customers to arrange direct trips rather than sharing a vehicle with other passengers and make multiple stops.
The agency is also reassuring patrons that the service isn’t going away despite misinformation that has spread, said Arleen Schenck, a Valley Metro mobility program supervisor.
The change takes place July 1, when Valley Metro will end its contract with Veolia Transportation. Under the current system, passengers frequently share a ride with other passengers.
In July, Total Transit and private transportation firms will take over. Fewer passengers will share rides.
“What the new model will do is give customers a more direct route,” Schenck said.
Dial-a-Ride will dispatch a variety of vehicles, including taxis or sedans for passengers who can walk, to specially-equipped vehicles for those in wheelchairs. That will reduce the $10 million East Valley contract cost by about one-third.
East Valley response times are good now but should improve, Schenck said.
“What we’re going from is the traditional Dial-a-Ride vehicle, which we own and manage, to more of a taxi-based service, so there’s a lot more vehicle availability,” Schenck said.
Some customers are apprehensive about the change because drivers familiar to them may not be part of the new service, she said. But patrons in the West Valley went through a similar change in 2010 and have had a generally favorable response, Schenck said.
“I just feel like they need to give it a chance,” she said.
Valley Metro will display new vehicles at events over the next two months. The scheduled events are:
• 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., March 21, Guthrie Center, 3200 N. Dobson Road, Chandler.
• Noon to 1:30 p.m., March 14, Senior Center, 130 N. Oak St., Gilbert.
• 10 a.m. to noon, March 28, Guthrie Center, 6549 E. University Drive, Mesa.
• 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., April 3, Guthrie Center, 854 E. Williams Field Road, Ste. 106, Gilbert.
• 10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., April 10, Escalante Senior Center, 2150 E. Orange St., Tempe
• 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., May 9, Senior Center, 202 E. Boston St., Chandler.
• 10 a.m. to noon, May 8, Senior Center, 7550 E. Adobe, Mesa.
• 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., May 11, Senior Center, 247 N. MacDonald, Mesa.
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