Ride Along with Ronnie

On a sunny spring day. Ronnie, a regular rider with Athens On-Demand Transit (AODT), finishes up his weekly therapy at Natural Freedom Wellness Centers. Ronnie’s driver, Pat, pulls out the ramp for Ronnie’s wheelchair and they load into the van. With a quick goodbye to his horse, William, Ronnie and Pat are back on the road to Nelsonville.

Ronnie attends therapy appointments each Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. He says, “the thing I like best about Athens On-Demand Transit is I never have to worry about having a ride.” In addition to therapy appointments, Ronnie takes AODT for shopping trips to Walmart. He enjoys conversations with his drivers who he describes as down-to-earth. “I would be lost with AODT,” Ronnie says.

For Ronnie, and many of the one in four older Americans who live in rural areas, transportation can present a major barrier to health and wellness. The distance to healthcare providers, shopping, and social connections means many older Americans rely on assistance to meet their basic needs. That’s where AODT comes in.

In April 2022, AODT provided 1,234 rides. 94% of them were for older adults or differently-abled individuals. In total, riders traveled 18,573 miles, Most trips taken remain in Athens County, although some destinations go beyond county lines. Although riders travel for many reasons, including leisure and shopping, work, school, and medical appointments make up the majority of trips.

To book his trips, Ronnie calls two days ahead of time. He talks with the dispatcher, Leta, to secure an affordable and reliable ride when and where he needs it. When it comes to drivers, he has his favorites but knows that all AODT drivers will get him where he needs to go safely.

As Ronnie arrives at his house in Nelsonville, where he has lived for the last 20 years, he says goodbye to his driver, Pat, and heads inside. Until tomorrow, when another friendly AODT driver will arrive to take him to his next appointment.

Learn more about Athens On-Demand Transit.

Source: Rural Transportation Toolkit. Rural Health Information Hub. https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org.

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