NORTH ROYALTON – Senior riders will likely be taking the Senior Transportation Connection out for a spin soon.
STC offers transportation services to senior citizens in participating communities, and North Royalton is currently considering a partnership.
The city will enter an agreement with the STC, as council approved legislation on May 2. The STC would begin providing rides to certain destinations locally beginning July 1, something the senior center has long been doing.
Through this arrangement, North Royalton would realize a slight decrease in costs associated with transportation because it would eliminate its own two part-time driver positions and transportation services offered through the senior center. However, partnering with the company would greatly increase services available to seniors through an expanded service area, ridership and hours of operation, officials said.
Mayor Bob Stefanik told city council about the venture during council’s finance committee meeting last month.
“We have one driver retiring, one that wants to cut down on hours, so they are absolutely on board to eliminate their positions if we go to the Senior Transportation Connection. We will see a slight decrease in costs, but we’re increasing the level of service, the hours of operation and expanding the service area,” Stefanik said. “Hopefully we’re going to have a contract in a month. Judy Willey started the ball rolling before she left. We’ll probably keep our drivers on board for a month or two while we’re in transition.”
The senior center has been transporting residents since the North Royalton Kiwanis Club provided the first van in the early ‘80s.
North Royalton’s senior center transports seniors free of charge between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. within a fixed service area that includes: Parma, Broadview Heights, Strongsville Cleveland Clinic, the Strongsville Medical Center at Drake and Pearl, the November MetroHealth facility on Pearl near Sprague, the VA facility on Brookpark Road, and a group of medical buildings near Bagley and Pearl.
Through STC, riders 60 years of age and older will be able to utilize its travel service for trips such as medical and business appointments, social service providers, senior centers, grocery stores, pharmacies, salons and personal service appointments.
The major expansion would be to open up the service area to include Middleburg Heights and Southwest General Health Center. Strongsville, the Centers for Family and Children, Parma UH Medical Center, Brook Park including the VA facility, Healthspan on Snow Road and Broadview Heights are all in the STC service area.
Group shopping schedules will remain as is.
Once the partnership formally begins, residents will be able to register for STC, and rides would be scheduled directly through its own dispatch. Hours would be from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Senior Center regulars will be informed of the changes through a detailed letter.
City officials believe it’s a good move especially for residents.
“Making this transition, it is going to enhance services because we will be able to expand the service area to include the Southwest General buildings. STC will be taking over our vans, it will be their drivers, but they will be able to enhance the service area, enhance the ridership and enhance the hours of operation. They’ll be able to transport more people than we can,” said Debra Burrows, outreach specialist for the city’s office on aging.
STC Executive Director Janice Dzigiel said she is excited to begin growing more to the west and south.
“North Royalton will be our 30th community, and we’re excited to have them,” she said. “We’re pretty full on the east side, but we’re really looking to grow the west side. We would like to fill in south and west communities a little more.”