Beginning Monday, there will be no Area Agency on Aging vans providing transportation to Cambria County senior centers.
But those who depend on the vans might not even notice the final changeover to CamTran’s vehicles.
In fact, many of the familiar white AAA vans will continue to operate with CamTran decals added to the doors, said Rose Lucy-Noll, executive director of Cambria County Transit Authority.
“Nothing has changed for the riders,” Lucy-Noll said after Friday’s authority board meeting.
Monday’s rollout of the unified county transportation program culminates months of planning and implementation that dates back to the rural division’s 2004 move into an expanded and renovated Switzler Buick-Oldsmobile building at 1226 Center St. outside Ebensburg. Area Agency on Aging dispatching hub, van parking and service capacity were built into the $4.2 million project.
Prior to that, Lucy-Noll said, CamTran Shared Ride vans and Aging vans would frequently pick up seniors from the same apartment complex and drop them off at different addresses within a few blocks of one another.
“The goal was to eliminate duplication,” Lucy-Noll said.
State mandates have pushed for additional consolidation wherever transit systems and Aging offices provide similar programs, she added.
CamTran Chairman Ed Cernic Jr. commended Dan Ligda, assistant administrator, for leading the coordination with Aging.
“Dan Ligda did an outstanding job with the staging,” Cernic said. “There’s going to be little hitches here and there, but we don’t expect any big problems.”
CamTran staff reached out at senior centers and senior apartment complexes to help riders understand the consolidation.
Seniors who need transportation to doctors’ offices, senior centers, shopping or other nearby destinations should call the central dispatch office at 800-252-3889.
The biggest obstacle, Ligda said, has been finding qualified applicants to be hired as drivers.
Although 11 full- and part-time drivers were invited to apply, only eight were interviewed. Of those, five were offered jobs and three were hired. Two more drivers will be needed, and former Aging drivers still may be considered, he said.
Some of the part-time drivers did not want to commit to CamTran’s work schedule, which includes several trips each day between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Lucy-Noll said. Some of those drivers previously split time with the Aging offices’ Meals-on-Wheels delivery, which they will continue, she added.
Qualified drivers do not need to have bus driving experience, Ligda noted.
“We are looking for customer service skills,” he said. “We want that friendly CamTran bus driver. We provide the (driver’s) training.”