When it comes to getting around Centre County, seniors have a wealth of options at their disposable for affordable transportation services.
Some organizations, such as the Centre Area Transportation Authority, offer multiple services and benefits to individuals older than 65 and anyone with a disability.
CATA offers reduced-fare options for seniors through its regular CATABus service. It also offers the CATARide program, a curb-to-curb transportation service that is separate from its normal bus routes.
“Persons age 65 and over may ride the CATABus system free by presenting a transit identification card as they board the bus,” said Jacqueline Sheader, marketing manager for CATA.
Never miss a local story.
This identification card can be obtained by visiting either the main CATA office in Cato Park or the pass sales office in downtown State College. Visitors must fill out an application form and bring along verifiable proof of age. Even if riders do not have identification cards, they can still present Medicare cards to drivers, which will cut their fare costs in half.
“This program allows for free service through special grant revenue derived from Pennsylvania lottery receipts,” Sheader said.
Separate from the reduced-fare bus service is CATARide, previously known as Centre Ride. This curb-to-curb program allows people to reserve rides and be picked up and dropped off at designated locations around the county.
CATARide is designed not only for senior citizens but also for people with disabilities that makes riding a CATABus vehicle difficult.
Although anyone can take advantage of CATARide, fare for seniors and individuals with disabilities is reduced to $3 from the standard $20 charge per trip.
The CATARide service area includes the Centre Region, Bellefonte and several additional townships — including Benner and Spring. In these areas, people can schedule to be picked up anywhere within a three-quarter-mile radius of the regular CATABus routes. To schedule a trip, riders must make a reservation the day before, although reservations can be made up to two weeks in advance.
For a senior interested in either of CATA’s transportation services, the best way to learn more is “by stopping by to see us to get their discounted passes and by viewing our ‘how-to’ videos on the CATA website,” said Sheader. “Schedule, route and fare information can be found by referring to the CATA website, www.catabus.com, the CATA Spring/Summer 2014 Ride Guide, or by calling 238-2282.”
While CATA may be one of the most noticeable forms of public transportation throughout the region, there are several additional services available for seniors. The Centre County Office of Transportation Services offers a program similar to CATARide that allows seniors to schedule trips to and from medical appointments, senior centers and other locations around the county.
Although the Office of Transportation Services does not provide personnel for riders needing assistance, riders can note whether they need a lift service when reserving a trip. To ensure availability, riders who need a lift service are encouraged to schedule their trip several days in advance.
To schedule a trip, individuals can call the Centre County Office of Transportation Services at 355-6807. As with the CATARide program, trips must be scheduled at least one day before the intended pickup date. The service operates from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., although return trips are available until 4 p.m.
Several senior centers around the region also offer direct transportation services to and from their locations. The Centre Region Senior Center offers a van service that can be scheduled a day before the intended visit. For seniors who drive, the center offers parking coupons that are good for up to two hours of free parking at any of the garages in State College.
Seniors older than 55 can schedule van transportation by calling 231-3076.
There are also services available in the county in the event of emergency medical situations or health care appointments.
The State College Community Help Centre offers many volunteer services to seniors, including in-home care, food preparation and emergency rides. For seniors in need of transportation to and from a doctor or hospital visit, rides can be scheduled by calling 237-5855.
These programs are a snapshot of the services available to senior citizens and individuals with disabilities throughout the county. Whether a senior citizen no longer wishes to drive, doesn’t own a vehicle or has a disability that impairs his or her driving ability, there are a variety of solutions available.