The Coast News Group

Vans offered for charity recipients

COAST CITIES — Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and Facilitating Access to Coordinated Transportation (FACT) are partners in an initiative to donate 10 small buses to nonprofit agencies.MTS, the owner of the small buses is working with FACT to find eligible recipients. The buses were formerly operated and maintained by MTS Access, the transportation service for persons with disabilities who are unable to use regular transit without assistance. The proposal was recently approved by the governing boards of FACT and MTS. Applications may be downloaded from FACT’s Web site on March 1, or requested by mail.

The objective of the collaboration between the two agencies is to identify recipient agencies who can serve current and potential MTS Access riders; this arrangement would reduce the demand for the expensive paratransit service while still meeting the needs of clients effectively. The donations will not affect riders who are eligible to use MTS Access; any trips taken on the donated vehicles would be on a voluntary basis.

All buses are 2006 El Dorado National Type Bs, gasoline powered and run on the Ford E450 chassis. They seat up to 16 passengers and accommodate up to 4 passengers in wheelchairs. MTS plans to replace the vehicles with new buses.

FACT, a nonprofit, and the agency administering the donation process, is a transportation and referral service that helps San Diego residents find appropriate travel options. FACT will accept applications for the available vehicles and make the selections with the help of a committee. The review process will prioritize agencies that commit to providing the most trips to current and potential MTS Access riders. Applicants will also be assessed on their ability to operate and maintain the vehicles safely. Similar donation models have been deployed successfully in several jurisdictions in California and the offer is a win-win for riders who receive more personalized transportation, as well as for donating agencies due to its cost effectiveness. It will also enhance the ability of the San Diego County’s transportation providers to offer wheelchair accessible services. In 2010 FACT and North County Transportation District (NCTD) partnered on a successful vehicle donation program.

This collaboration is considered a pilot, which if successful, may lead to an ongoing process for donation of retired MTS vehicles.

MTS provides bus and rail services in Central, South, and East San Diego Regions. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complementary paratransit service is provided by MTS Access.

FACT is a non-profit agency formed in 2005, and in 2006 designated by SANDAG to coordinate public, nonprofit, private, and other transportation services in San Diego County. FACT seeks to improve access to transportation for seniors, persons with disabilities, veterans, and the income disadvantaged and fill the gaps in existing services.