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Volume 13, Issue 7
July 2015


Transportation Alternatives
By Jennifer Hemmeyer

“Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car.” E. B. White’s observation in One Man’s Meat (1943) rings true today more than ever. According to DMV statistics, 396,000 Washington county residents (about two-thirds) had a driver’s license in 2012, but how is everyone else getting “somewhere else?”

Non-drivers fall into two major categories—those who choose not to drive, and those who are unable to drive. In the former, both environmental awareness and health consciousness propel people to car pool, bike, walk, and use public transportation. In Cedar Mill, public transportation is bus 50, which loops through Cedar Mill to the Sunset Transit Center during weekday morning and evening rush hours only, along with line 48 and 62. A complete schedule and list of stops can be found at

A percentage of those unable to drive utilize public transportation, but there are those for whom this mode of transport is not viable. “We don’t know what we don’t know,” stated an employee in the DMV Public Affairs Department when asked for the number of individuals in Washington County who are unable to drive. What we do know is that the demand for rides is great. In the past twelve months, the TriMet LIFT has provided 127,000 rides to patrons in Washington County. Ride Connection, in the same time period, has provided over 435,000 rides in the greater Portland area.

TriMet LIFT Paratransit Service

“The LIFT program is really for those who are unable to ride the fixed route system,” explained Mary Fetsch with TriMet Media Relations. Riders, if approved, will be granted unconditional, conditional or temporary service, depending on their eligibility. Factors such as age, disability, availability of bus service, an inability to drive or personal finances are some factors that determine eligibility. Call 503-962-8200 to request an application, or visit

From the LIFT paratransit service website

The application process involves a few steps. An interested individual must complete an application, including professional verification of disability and abilities, and participate in an interview with an eligibility coordinator. The applicant will get a letter 21 days after the interview informing him or her of the outcome.

Once accepted, the person can call 503-962-8000 to schedule a ride. The scheduler asks for the caller’s home address and phone number, the destination address and number, and the date and time of the request. While requests must be made by 5 pm on the day before the ride, riders are encouraged to schedule with as much notice as possible. Each ride costs $2.50.

Ride Connection

Ride Connection is a private nonprofit organization providing accessible transportation for seniors and those with disabilities. They are able to fulfill 85% of ride requests. If interested, call 226-0700, or visit

Getting connected is a simple, 20-minute phone call. Once registered, an applicant’s needs are assessed by a Transportation Options Counselor. The counselor then links the individual with whichever service best meets the need.

Laura Bailey, from the Ride Connection Website

Ride Connection offers three main programs. Through Door-to-Door Rides, an individual can schedule a ride anytime between 8 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Both paid and volunteer drivers who have gone through driver training provide these rides. While there is no fee for rides, donations are gladly accepted. The rider needs to call at least four days before an appointment to place a request. Ride Connection calls back two days before the ride to confirm or deny the ride.

“They’re very helpful and resourceful,” says Veronica Landry, who is both a customer and volunteer with Ride Connection. “Drivers will even help carry groceries.” After being diagnosed with breast cancer last August, Landry discovered the Door-to-Door program. She didn’t have a car, and traveling on regular TriMet buses across town for medical visits and chemo treatments quickly became a challenge. Ride Connection helped her get comfortably to and from her appointments. When asked about her experience with Ride Connection, Landry shared, “It’s been wonderful. I love it, and the people are great to work with.”

Ride Connection’s RideWise Travel Training program offers instruction to qualified individuals on how to safely and independently use public transportation. Last year, 250 individuals were successfully trained.

Ride Together, their newest program, empowers riders to find their own drivers, and reimburses those  drivers for their miles. Riders can then directly schedule their rides with their drivers at times most convenient for both parties.

With an ever-increasing number of older people in our community, transportation alternatives directly impact quality of life. In their article Psychology on the Road (, Ann Conkle and Catherine West state that, “living independently requires access to transportation.” This key to independence must be maintained and expanded as Cedar Mill grows.

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Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
PO Box 91061
Portland, Oregon 97291
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