JOHN DAY – The People Mover just got the green light on efforts to get more local veterans to medical appointments outside the area.

After a yearlong process, the transportation service received word from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that they may now take a larger capacity bus on the weekly runs to Walla Walla, Wash.

Angie Jones, transit manager for The People Mover, began the application process in August 2014, after learning The People Mover would be receiving the High Rural Transportation Grant to be able to take Grant County veterans to medical appointments.

The effort was not without barriers, the largest of which was that the FMCSA didn’t recognize the insurance risk pool that they use through the Special Districts Association of Oregon. The risk pool met or exceeded all the requirements, but was still unrecognized because it wasn’t affiliated with the private insurance industry.

Jones, however, was undeterred, continuing the required process and pushing for recognition of the necessary insurance, seeking assistance from the Oregon Department of Transportation, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and other agencies for assistance.

As a result, the Grant County Transportation District is the first of its kind in Oregon and the nation to apply for and receive Motor Carrier Authority to provide public transportation across state lines.

“Grant County deserves tremendous credit for trailblazing the path forward to solve a tough transportation issue to make sure veterans get the health care they need and deserve,” said Sen. Wyden.

“I’m gratified that I could help The People Mover with their job of connecting our veterans to health care in Walla Walla, and I very much appreciate that Angie Jones and the People Mover shares my commitment to our veterans,” Sen. Wyden added.

Robin Phillips, executive director of the National Rural Transit Assistance Program, said, ““Like common sense, your attention and follow through are uncommon and much needed in your community.”

The People Mover travels to Walla Walla every Tuesday. The service is open to the general public, as well as veterans who need medical services. For more information, call The People Mover office at 541-575-2370.

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