Going your way: The People Mover

<I>The Eagle/Angel Carpenter</I><BR>Hard at work Oct. 23, driver Frank Bingham (left) operates The People Mover wheelchair lift, and Ken Primrose types in a scheduled ride at The People Mover office.

JOHN DAY - When there's no vehicle for your errands The People Mover is a convenient solution.

It's also the only community transportation service in the John Day Valley with handicap access.

"We don't just haul seniors and handicapped, we haul anybody," said People Mover Manager Linda Cook.

The wheels on The People Mover bus cover a lot of miles carrying, on average, 280 passengers a month.

Calling 24 hours in advance to Dial-a-Ride, 541-575-2370, can take a person from their home to the store, bank and doctor's office Monday through Friday.

The extra notice is important says Cook as it gives the rider first choice in scheduled drop-off and pickup times and also helps Cook anticipate if one or two drivers will be needed.

Rides in John Day and Canyon City are $2 a stop or $1 a stop for seniors, disabled and children under 10. Children under 3 ride free and all children must have adult supervision.

Rides are also available to Prairie City or Mt. Vernon at a round-trip rate of $7.

If there's an appointment with a specialist, shopping or another bus to catch in Bend, The People Mover can accommodate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The Bend bus service takes about 60 riders a month.

Leaving with passengers from the bus barn, 229 NE Dayton St., promptly at 7 a.m. the Bend bus can travel to Prairie City, with 24 hours notice, to pick up passengers and also makes stops in Mt. Vernon, Dayville, Mitchell, Prineville, Redmond and the Redmond airport (if a pickup is scheduled).

The bus arrives in Bend at approximately 11 a.m. and leaves at 4 p.m.

A 16-passenger bus makes the Bend run with two smaller vehicles handling the local work.

Funded by the Oregon Department of Transportation, The People Mover remains a nonprofit organization.

ODOT grants recently funded the purchase of a 16-passenger bus, which Cook says should be a comfortable ride. The new vehicle is expected around the first of the year.

A minivan to replace the small bus has also been ordered, and Cook hopes to see its arrival in February or March.

Six people take care of the driving duties.

"They're very, very good," Cook said. "They work hard. They load and unload wheelchairs all day long."

Frank Bingham and Ken Primrose handle the local bus routes and dispatch.

Nancy Wells, Rich Madden and Doug Boyer are the Bend drivers and fill in when needed, and Alan Hickerson is a relief driver.

"It's a really vital service for the community," Primrose said. "A lot of people depend on it - especially the elderly, those that don't have transportation and handicapped people."

Cook agreed, "We've had several people tell us that if it was not for People Mover they would have to leave their homes and live in assisted living."

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