Dial-a-Ride bus service has expanded in Wauconda and Fremont townships to provide a wider choice of destinations, backers say.
The transportation option for the disabled and general public had a soft opening with limited service in those townships in October as part of an extension of the Northwest Demonstration Project. That project began early in 2010 in Grant, Avon, Lake Villa and Antioch townships.
"We have a much more expanded service," Wauconda Township Supervisor Glenn Swanson said.
Service is provided through federal grants and matching contributions from Lake County and Pace, the suburban bus agency.
Wauconda Township since 1986 has offered a transportation service for seniors over 60, but this is a separate effort.
"This is the first service of this type in the township," Swanson said.
The menu of specific stops for the new service has grown to 10 and includes the Metra station, Lake County Center for Independent Living and Health Reach Clinic, all in Mundelein. Riders can go anywhere within the two townships and also connect with services to travel to the College of Lake County, or medical centers in Gurnee, for example.
Eligible riders also can connect to the Metra station in Mundelein, the two stations at Prairie Crossing and to suburban bus routes to travel to other areas in Lake, McHenry and Cook counties.
"This is a huge quality of life changer for a lot of people," said Kelli Brooks, president of the Lake County Coordinated Transportation Services Committee.
The coalition of government officials, advocacy groups and service providers works to coordinate and improve transportation for persons with disabilities or medical challenges, those needing to get to work, the elderly and low income residents.
"Especially in Wauconda (township), there is just nothing out there. Now, they'll be able to get to places like CLC," Brooks said.
The service operates Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with a one-way fare of $2 for people with disabilities and seniors and $4 for all others.
Seniors and those with disabilities can make seven-day advance registrations for work and medical appointments. All other ride requests must be scheduled a day in advance.
The Northwest Demonstration Project was initiated to coordinate paratransit services in those townships and provided buses at earlier and later times to accommodate those going to work or school.
The service has averaged about 1,200 one-way trips per month, according to Valbona Kokushi, senior planner with the Lake County Division of Transportation. About 42 percent of the trips have been for work and about 21 percent for medical purposes, she said.
Ridership in Fremont Township, which has Dial-a-Ride twice a week, has not been great but 50 one-way trips were reported in Wauconda Township in November, she added.