WAVE discusses future

By Seth Kinker, skinker@thesuntimesnews.com

The Western Washtenaw Area Value Express (WAVE) made their yearly presentation to council on Apr. 15 at the regularly scheduled city council meeting.

Jim Carson, representing WAVE, was on hand to share information about the past year for WAVE in Chelsea as well as their plans for the upcoming year.

Serving Chelsea and the adjacent communities for 43 years, this non-profit organization provides affordable transportation for older adults, persons with disabilities and other individuals who need transit services in western Washtenaw county.

“We very much appreciate you share the same feeling we have, that transportation is essential in discussing opportunities,” said Carson in his opening statement to council on Apr. 15. “For employment, entertainment, education, and healthcare.”

Last year, WAVE provided 44,000 rides in the area, with seven routes in the Chelsea area.

The three routes supported by the city, the Door-to-Door service for Chelsea, the Lifeline Door- to-Door service, and the Community Connector route which links Chelsea with Dexter and Ann Arbor, account for 15,000 rides per year for WAVE.

The cities cost allocation for the past year was $63,037. This was found by taking the cost of Chelsea programs for the last fiscal year, which was $261,619, minus the total funding applied to that cost, which was $198,582.

With the programs offered and funds WAVE has, Carson told council WAVE was bringing a value of $397,000 to the community.

Carson commended the city for offering the service to their community while also informing them of WAVE’s upcoming plans.

Marketing and education have been discussed in the past and Carson notified council that WAVE had appointed a board committee to work with the executive director to work on the task.

WAVE has plans to interview marketing firms soon with plans for a campaign this fall.

After the presentation, council member Peter Feeney asked about discussions with the senior center to which Carson replied that the WAVE board had been in contact with the senior center board since Jan. 8, meeting three times to talk about senior transportation

Carson reported that they’re working to develop transportation and bus services for the senior center specifically that would run 5 days a week, 8 hours a day.

“Where we’re at with that, we finished our last meeting two weeks ago and their board is working on the information we provided,” said Carson. “The WAVE board is committed in helping the senior center come up with a program that’s a cost effective, sustainable program for the grant money they received.”

In late 2018, with the senior center’s goal of helping build on and expand the transportation network in the area, they were awarded $150,000 in the Vital Seniors Competition. A $50,000 grant for Rural Older Adults in Motion (ROAM, the name of their transportation network), as well as a $100,000 innovation prize.

This new influx of funding will go towards more staff hours to help build capacity of ROAM, expanding existing mass transit, community outreach, and the subsidization of rides for those who need them for critical services.

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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