An isolation study (1994-97) done by the Saskatoon Council on Aging concluded that the lack of safe affordable transportation for frail seniors was a major cause of isolation. A lack of access to required services such as health and recreation quickly leads to isolation and deteriorating health.
- SCOA initiated the Senior Shuttle Service Pilot Project with financial support from New Horizons and generous community in-kind support. It provided 4224 rides to Saskatoon seniors during the trial period November 15, 1995 to March 31 1996. A joint initiative of SCOA and the Corps of Commissionaires (CORPS), the project confirmed that an assisted seniors’ transportation service was needed on a permanent basis.
- Based on the success of the pilot project, a Shuttle Service Management team was struck in 1997 to explore ways to develop a permanent service. A United Way grant provided funding to hire Lynn Tait as project coordinator. For two years meetings were held with MD ambulance and the two cab companies, Radio and United as well as other community groups. A fundraising initiative was undertaken in Nov 1997 with the goal of raising $120,000.
Community response was generous: however, it became apparent that the whole issue of Special Needs Transportation needed to be a broad-based community effort.
- In May 1998 SCOA approached City Council with a request for assistance in the implementation of a Senior Shuttle Service. The request was received by City Council on June 29th and referred to the Special Needs Transportation Study Task Force. An August 1999 memo from the Saskatoon Council on Aging to City council supported the city’s recommendations to expand its eligibility criteria to include all persons who are unable to use the regular transit service due to physical, mental or medical disability. It also stated that the criteria would be further expanded to include all persons 75 years of age or older when the Special Needs Transportation service has the financial capacity to fulfill this demand. Efforts were also made to develop strategies to secure adequate funding from the City and the Province to finance Special Needs Transportation.
(1) On June 9th 2003, Councilor McCann inquired about the cost of providing the needed transportation. An external consultant was hired to do a study of the options. The recommendations of the report; that the driving, maintaining and booking of Special Needs Transportation be done in-house, was passed by council on August 11, 2003. By July 1 2004, the transition to in-house operations was in place. (1)
(1) Information provided by Jamie Robinson with Access Transit
Jean Nahachewsky Jan 22, 2014