Richmond Cares Richmond Gives’ (RCRG) transportation service is back on the road nearly a year after it was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through the service, seniors can arrange rides to appointments or other outings with volunteer drivers.
Ed Gavsie, RCRG president and CEO, said the service is back as of Feb. 1, however, it’s operating on a limited basis for the time being.
“It’s very limited because, number one, we are only using one vehicle, which is our (RCRG) vehicle… And also, we only have a couple of volunteers who are willing to come back and provide the service.”
That means the service will only be operating in Richmond and medical appointments will take priority, he said.
“Then we’ll see, as more (people) get vaccinated and health orders hopefully lift a bit, then we’ll expand, slowly.”
The transportation service has proven to be popular with seniors. According to RCRG, the service was one of its busiest prior to COVID-19, with volunteer drivers completing 2,114 trips between April 2019 and March 2020.
While many medical appointments took place virtually over the past year, Gavsie said the volunteer organization still received regular calls from people seeking the transportation service.
Prior to the pandemic, RCRG volunteers would use their own cars and go door-to-door to help the seniors. However, the service will only be curb-to-curb right now to limit contact, Gavsie said. Clients will need to be able to get in and out of the car independently.
He added that the reason RCRG is only using their own vehicle – which is also used for grocery deliveries – for now is because they can control it from a health perspective.
A plastic shield has been put up between the front and back seats – where clients will sit – and personal protective equipment, such as masks and sanitizers, is available in the car for those who need it. The car is also cleaned after each trip, Gavsie said.
Those interested in using the transportation service can call RCRG at 604-279-7020. The fee for the service is based on a client’s income.