Laketran's Seniors on the Go in gear to help older residents stay mobilePublished: Thursday, May 16, 2013
By Bill DeBus
The News-Herald news-herald.com
For Lake County senior citizens, the road to using Laketran can begin in their living room or on the front porch.
In fact, a Laketran outreach specialist will make a personal visit to seniors' homes to answer all of their questions about the transit system, ranging from where to catch the bus to how to pay for their trips.
It's all part of Laketran's new travel training program called Seniors on the Go. The program aims to create customized transportation plans for senior citizens who need to get around Lake County but might not have a car or family members to rely upon for rides.
The transit agency already does travel training outreach for the general public, but it started Seniors on the Go as a special program after getting an increasing number of calls from senior citizens and their caregivers.
One such call came from Ron Sluga of Eastlake, who wondered if Laketran could help his 75-year-old mother, Carol Sluga of Willowick, make trips to places like the grocery store and doctors' offices.
"As you drive around town, you see senior citizens coming on the Laketran buses quite frequently," said Ron, 56.
Carol lives alone, has dealt with eye problems and other health issues in recent years, and at the moment, has no car, her son said.
"Before trying to get her a used car, she agreed to try Laketran, and so far it's worked out really well," he said.
Before Carol made her first Dial-a-Ride trip on a Laketran bus, Ron arranged for the transit agency's customer outreach specialist, Pat Pryatel, to meet with his mom at her home.
"He said he was going to be traveling and was worried that his mom wouldn't be able to get around," Pryatel said. "We come for an interview that's individualized, so we find out exactly what somebody needs and go ahead and show them how to get it."
The program highlights options for seniors to allow them to make personal decisions on whether they need transportation service for night or winter driving, to get to doctors' appointments, help during a life-changing event, such as rehabilitation from a stroke, or daily trips for essential transportation.
During a Seniors on the Go visit, Pryatel will help a senior citizen determine if they would be best served by Laketran's Dial-a-Ride service or local route buses. Dial-a-Ride provides door-to-door service on a reservation basis to anywhere in Lake County.
If seniors choose to take local route buses, Pryatel will help them understand Laketran bus schedules and know where to get on and off the bus.
Whatever Laketran service that a senior citizen uses, Pryatel also will explain how to pay for their bus trips. This could involve learning how to use Laketran smartcards — which come with a loaded fare value and require no cash payment. In addition, other seniors can receive free or discounted transportation if they qualify through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Americans with Disabilities Act, or other government agencies and programs.
Carol said she enjoys using Laketran Dial-A-Ride, which has reduced the need to arrange rides from son Ron and several other children and relatives who live in the area.
The transportation predicament experienced by the Slugas is "very typical, and becoming more the rule than the exception," Laketran General Manager Ray Jurkowski said.
A driving force behind this trend is an increase in the number of older citizens in Lake County.
In fact, a Miami University Scripps Gerontology Center study projects that residents age 60 or older will comprise 34 percent of Lake County's population in 2030, compared with 22.4 percent in 2010.
The AARP also reported that 88 percent of senior citizens want to stay in their own homes as long as they can, but more than 20 percent of seniors age 65 and older do not drive.
Laketran's Seniors on the Go program can offer solutions to keep senior citizens mobile while keeping peace in their families, Jurkowski said.
"I think what this does is it gives seniors a sense of independence, and they don't have to rely on family members as much for transportation," he said. "So Laketran can relieve some of that tension and stress for families."
For more information on the Seniors on the Go program, visit laketran.com or call 440-350-1064.
Laketran responds to food shortage with FILL THAT BUS food drivePublished: Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Lake County, OH - With the need for food increasing throughout the community combined with a dramatic decrease in donations to Feed Lake County, United Way of Lake County is holding a last effort to increase donations to the nonprofit organization's annual spring food drive.
Laketran will kick-off the Fill-the-Bus food drive on Friday, April 27, by collecting non-perishable food items on-board all Laketran buses from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and at the Laketran Headquarters, located at 555 Lakeshore Blvd. in Painesville Township, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Laketran and City of Willoughby are partnering with United Way of Lake County with a goal to Fill-a-Bus in the parking lot outside of Willoughby City Hall (1 Public Square, Willoughby, OH) on Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon during the city's Eco-Flea Market day and United Way of Lake County is encouraging residents to bring food items to FILL THAT BUS. Individuals who donate food items Saturday will be entered into a WELW raffle that consists of prizes for restaurant certificates and tickets to the movies and Captains games.
“Laketran is glad we can raise awareness and join in the solution for Feed Lake County. With over 100 buses and 600 bus stops around Lake County, there should be no excuse not to donate,” suggests Julia Schick, Laketran’s director of marketing. “Laketran buses run hourly to downtown Painesville, Great Lakes Mall, Lakeland College, Classic Park, Shoregate Shopping Center and the Shops of Willoughby Hills. Laketran bus riders, employees and residents can donate by simply handing food donations to a driver.”
According to United Way, both the pounds of food and the money raised for this year's Feed Lake County have fallen short of expectations and United Way is hoping that the community will once again come together before Monday's distribution to help increase food or money donations.
Local food pantries continue to see an increase in clients who are in need of food as 2-1-1 reported more than 4,200 requests for food in 2012, which was up from 3,600 calls in 2011. From January of this year to March, there have been 865 calls for food, which is up from 516 calls between January and March of 2012.
Feed Lake County usually raises about 50,000 pounds of food and $50,000 in donations each campaign. The food is distributed to more than 50 local food pantries. The donated dollars buy food throughout the year including two major purchases in September and December.
"Feed Lake County is important to filling many pantries in Lake County who continue to have increased requests from families with children and senior citizens," said Gayle Sikula, United Way of Lake County's Feed Lake County Coordinator. "Hunger is very real in our community and as citizens; we can do something about it by simply sharing a can of food. That donated can of food will end up on a hungry family's table."
Items needed are canned veggies, canned fruit, canned meat, boxed meals, pasta and sauce, peanut butter, soups, breakfast items and personal items such as soap, toothpaste, shampoo, laundry detergent, etc. Paper goods such as toilet paper are also accepted while monetary donations will be used to purchase food.
If you'd like to contribute to Feed Lake County but cannot make it on Saturday, contact Gayle Sikula at 440.639.1082. Monetary donations can be mailed to United Way of Lake County, 9285 Progress Parkway, Mentor, OH.
Laketran to upgrade, expand security camerasPublished: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
By Bill DeBus
Laketran is aiming to ensure the safety of its customers, employees and the general public by upgrading and installing additional security cameras this summer at several of its properties.
The transit system’s Board of Trustees has approved a contract that calls for Zenith Systems of Cleveland to upgrade and expand Laketran’s security cameras for $249,827.
“Safety is a top priority as we serve the public,” said Andy Altenweg, Laketran’s deputy general manager, at Monday’s trustees meeting. “Camera systems are a major factor in providing customers and employees a safer environment, and in determining exactly what happened in most incidents.”
Laketran’s plan will add or upgrade security cameras in its headquarters at 555 Lake Shore Blvd. in Painesville Township and at two Park-n-Ride lots.
Inside the Laketran building, security cameras will be replaced and added at various locations in the agency’s maintenance and operations departments.
When it comes to Park-n-Ride locations, new security cameras are planned for the lot next to Laketran’s headquarters in Painesville Township; and at the lot at 200 Water Tower Drive in Madison Township, near the Interstate 90 and Route 528 interchange.
Whether in-house, at off-site locations or on Laketran buses, security cameras have proven invaluable in determining fault in accidents, injuries and other incidents, Altenweg said.
“While an exact dollar figure cannot be determined, Laketran’s insurance broker, the Ohio Transit Risk Pool, believes hundreds of thousands of dollars have been saved in potential lawsuits because of these systems,” he said.
This year’s security-camera project also will prove fiscally responsible, as Laketran is financing the bulk of the plan with federal funds.
Laketran will use $177,660 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds; $57,734 in federal transit funds; and $14,443 — about 6 percent of the total project cost — coming from the transit agency’s 2013 budget.
“It’s a good time to do this,” Altenweg said, adding that work on camera installations and upgrades will likely start in June and be completed by late July.