By Jenna Bagcal
A free transportation option for Queens seniors is set to return.
City Councilmen Paul Vallone and Peter Koo joined together in Bayside Dec. 5 to announce the return and expansion of the popular transportation program, which will be provided by Selfhelp Community Services and Four Twos Private Car Service. The program is slated to begin Monday, Dec. 10, and will be focused on providing seniors rides to their medical appointments.
Vallone and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson allocated a total of $130,000 to fund the program. The councilman allocated $80,000 for seniors living in his northeast Queens district while Johnson secured another $50,00 at the request of the City Council’s Queens Delegation to provide expanded services to seniors across the entire borough of Queens.
“Seniors in our city, many of who live on fixed incomes, are already faced with enough hardships such as rising property taxes, costs of living and stagnant funding for critical services. The last thing they should have to worry about is how they’re going to get to the doctor,” said Vallone. “This program has proven to provide our seniors with an alternative transportation option they need and deserve.”
Vallone said that when the program was first launched three years ago, he hoped that services would be expanded for all of Queens.
“We must never take for granted how complicated it can be for senior citizens to get around the city. Simple trips to the doctor can become day-long excursions requiring precise planning and hours of waiting,” said Koo. “Expanding the Free Transportation Program throughout Queens is a simple transportation improvement that will go a long way toward improving the quality of life of our seniors.”
Those who use the service will need to fill out a basic application with demographic information and an emergency contact. To make an appointment, seniors can call the Clearview Senior Center at (718) 224-7888 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. to schedule their next-day rides.
Service users must provide their name, address, phone number, time of pick up and their destination. When ready for pickup, the senior will call for their return trip.
Queens seniors who were at the press conference, including Bayside resident Ida Joseph, expressed appreciation for the alternative transportation service.
“It’s wonderful that Council Member Vallone is thinking of the seniors. We may be living longer but it is not easy for us to get around,” said Joseph. “I and the rest of the seniors really appreciate this program.”