A program backed with $2 million in funding is underway to help seniors get around Northwest Chula Vista for free. Anyone else who wishes to use this service will have to pay a small fee of $2. “It's finally coming into fruition for free rides in Northwest Chula Vista door to door,” said City Councilmember Jill Galvez who is at the forefront of this effort. “The doctor, their grandchildren’s house, a grocery store, dog groomer, hair salon, anywhere as long as it’s in Northwest Chula Vista, for free. I’ve been working on this and I've been so excited” Councilwoman Galvez said, adding that the program already secured $1 million in funding from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and matching funding from the Community Congregation Development Corporation (CCDC).
“I’m a city council member and I work on a million different projects and I can talk your ears off about those, but to me our seniors are the most important part of our community and it’s the highest and the most noble thing that anyone can do is make sure that they aren’t isolated” Councilwoman Galvez said. Seniors can call a ride via phone call, online, an app and through kiosks established in community centers. At least one shuttle will be ADA compliant with wheelchair accommodation and other apparatuses.
This service mirrors the Free Ride Everywhere Downtown (FRED) program in operation in the City of San Diego, and has worked closely with its parent company Circuit to create a map for the program. Chula Vista’s initiative will stay within city limits to keep people safe, especially for seniors who may have memory problems. Other programs such as Facilitate Access to Coordinated Transportation (FACT) can provide services for seniors who may need to travel outside of city limits. “That program is subsidized by MTS and other grants. Not terribly many people use it in Chula Vista and part of it is just that it can take a long time to get to your appointment outside of the city” Councilwoman Galvez stated. The UC Blue Line light rail will expand on November 21 of this year from Downtown San Diego to the UTC Transit where people can access the UCSD and VA medical centers. According to Councilwoman Galvez, seniors who need transportation to their appointments at these locations may call a ride to the trolley station, then will soon be able to commute directly to these medical centers where additional shuttles can take them from the trolley to the medial centers. “It’s an excellent idea, it’s needed. There are a lot of seniors, elderly disabled that could use it.” said Yvonne, the Transportation Coordinator at Pacific Pointe Retirement Living, testifying to the benefits this program can bring to the vulnerable senior community in Chula Vista.