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Article via The Corning Leader
BATH – Three new buses with more user-friendly ramps are about to hit the road in Steuben County.
"They’re less costly to maintain than the lift systems and they provide a larger sense of security for the rider," said Belinda Hoad, Mobility Manager for the Institute of Human Services, Inc.
Hoad said the change came about after a survey showed elderly residents hesitated to use public transportation because the "lock wheels and lift" method of helping people in wheelchairs board buses seemed scary.
The buses are just part of the efforts county officials are making to provide more effective and efficient transportation across the 1,409 square mile county.
Hoad also is undertaking a wide-ranging study of the challenges of transporting people in Steuben and planning ways to meet them.
According to an initial 160-page study, public transit, with centers in the cities of Corning and Hornell and village of Bath, covers 427.5 miles -- only 13.6 percent of the 3,147 miles that make up the county road system.
Nearly half of the county’s public assistance recipients live too far away from the urban transit centers, and 10 percent of them have no access to a vehicle, or transit systems, the study reported.
The lack of transportation is a significant barrier to employment, both from an employee’s and an employer’s perspective, as well as access to non-emergency medical appointments and other human service and social service programs, according to the study.
Currently, Steuben meets the challenges by augmenting public transit with volunteers coordinated by human service agencies such as the Steuben
Coordinated Transportation Volunteer Driver Program, Faith In Action and the county Office For the Aging’s Project Care.
The current study, due at the end of the year will look to address needs and access funds to meet them, Hoad said.
"Transportation barriers can have a debilitating effect on one’s life," Hoad said. "We are excited to move forward and explore possible innovations for Steuben County’s transit systems to increase transportation access for everyone. Changes in transit often occur slowly but Steuben County is moving in the right direction."