Funding doubled to expand free senior transportation program during COVID-19 pandemic

Courtesy of City Council

Northeast Queens Councilman Paul Vallone announced that, in partnership with Speaker Corey Johnson, the free senior transportation program will be extended this year with an additional $150,000 in funding.

This is in addition to the initial $150,000 in funding allocated to the program by Vallone, the Queens Delegation and the Queens borough president’s office.

With this additional funding, Vallone has now increased the budget for the program nearly eightfold since 2017, when his office earmarked $40,000 to pilot the program. This critical service remains operational during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Since my office created the initiative four years ago, the senior transportation program has provided thousands of free rides to and from important medical appointments, and I’m happy to announce that the program will offer this vital service to even more of our borough’s seniors this year,” Vallone said. “Most importantly, the program continues to run during the COVID-19 crisis, providing seniors with some peace of mind during these difficult times.”

To schedule a ride to an essential medical appointment, Queens seniors should call the Selfhelp Clearview Senior Center at 718-224-7888 between the hours of 9 a.m. and noon and leave their name and phone number in a voicemail to schedule their next-day rides. The Selfhelp team will return their call and arrange the ride.

“During these uncertain times, we must do everything we can to protect and support vulnerable New Yorkers, including our seniors,” Johnson said. “Additional funding for this senior transportation program is so important now. Aging residents have enough to worry about during the coronavirus crisis. They should not have to worry about how to get around.”

Those who use the service will need to complete a basic application with demographic information and an emergency contact and provide their destination. Selfhelp Community Services works in partnership with Four Twos and Central Car Service to schedule rides.

“In our fourth year of this program, we have provided hundreds of rides for older adults throughout Queens,” Selfhelp Community Services Director of Public Affairs Katie Foley said. “Transportation programs have become a lifeline for older Queens residents who are responding to COVID-19 social distancing requirements by avoiding public transportation. This program ensures that older adults have affordable, accessible and reliable transportation services to their medical appointments. We are proud to partner with the Speaker and the New York City Council. Together, we look forward to the continuation and growth of this critical service.”