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Funding Doubled for Free Transportation Program for Queens Seniors

Councilman Paul Vallone (Photo: NY Council)

May 4, 2020 By Allie Griffin

The New York City Council has doubled the funding for a program that provides free transportation to Queens seniors, effectively extending the program for at least another year.

Northeast Queens Council Member Paul Vallone helped to secure an additional $150,000 to fund the borough-based program which offers seniors rides to essential medical appointments — and is continuing to do so during the coronavirus pandemic.

The new funds are in addition to the initial $150,000 in funding allocated to the program this past fall by Vallone, the Queens delegation of council members, and the Queens Borough President.

Vallone has now increased the budget for the program nearly eightfold since 2017, when his office earmarked $40,000 to pilot the program.

“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.”

Selfhelp Community Services in partnership with Four Twos and Central Car Service schedules the rides for seniors.

The program will continue to operate until the funds are depleted. It’s especially needed now for seniors vulnerable to the coronavirus.

“Transportation programs have become a lifeline for older Queens residents who are responding to COVID-19 social distancing requirements by avoiding public transportation,” said Katie Foley, Director of Public Affairs at Selfhelp Community Services. “This program ensures that older adults have affordable, accessible, and reliable transportation services to their medical appointments.”

Queens seniors should call the Selfhelp Clearview Senior Center at 718-224-7888 between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. to schedule a ride by leaving their name and phone number in a voicemail. They should schedule the ride the day before their medical appointment and the Selfhelp team will return their call to arrange it.

Seniors will also need to complete a basic application with demographic information and an emergency contact to use the free service.

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James

New York’s public transportation system carries 8 million passengers a day. I stopped riding the train and bus as the outbreak started spreading in February. I took my car out of the garage and began to drive everywhere, a social distancing luxury I understand not everyone can afford, particularly in New York City where car ownership is scarce. But if you pack small areas and you’re dealing with a disease that is more contagious than the flu you’re probably going to come away with a lot of cases.

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