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Photos by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Councilman Paul Vallone and the first senior to receive a ride under the new program.

Traveling for northeast Queens seniors just got much easier.

Councilman Paul Vallone announced the official launch of a new pilot senior transportation program at Selfhelp Clearview Senior Center in Bayside on April 27. Funded by Vallone, the program allows seniors living in the councilman’s district, District 19, which covers sections of Flushing, Whitestone, College Point, Douglaston and Bayside, to schedule rides for medical appointments, family visits and shopping trips through the senior center for free.

With transportation provided by Four Two’s, interested seniors should call the Clearview Senior Center between 9 a.m. and noon to schedule their ride to a medical appointment for the next day. The senior should provide their name, address, phone number, time of pick up and their destination. The senior will then call for his or her return trip. A van service will also be provided for shopping and cultural trips to local institutions, such as Flushing Town Hall.

Citywide, but especially in northeast Queens, seniors face a lack of affordable and reliable transportation options. Access-a-Ride is often unreliable, Vallone said, and many seniors cannot afford more reliable modes of transportation. With this pilot program, the councilman continued, northeast Queens seniors have a viable transportation option.

“This really is a big day, and it’s unprecedented, because its not being provided anywhere else,” he said. “We are the first to do this.”

Sandy Myers, director of government and external relations for Selfhelp Community Services, thanked Vallone for the funding and said Selfhelp hopes to expand the program to other centers in the next few years.

“As older adults across the city and across the country are facing a reduction in the social safety net that allows them to stay in their communities, programs like this are really critical,” Myers said.

“It’s wonderful that Councilman Vallone is thinking of the seniors,” Bayside resident Ida Joseph said. “We may be living longer, but it is not easy for us to get around. I, and the rest of the seniors, really appreciate this program.”

For more information, call the Selfhelp Clearview Senior Center at 718-224-7888.

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