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Macomb Township

January 30, 2013

Macomb adjusts to expanded Dial-A-Ride service

By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer

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Macomb adjusts to expanded Dial-A-Ride service
Lakesha Davenport, a Dial-A-Ride coordinator for Macomb Township, stands near one of the SMART vans used to transport senior citizens and the disabled. In November, the Macomb Board of Trustees placed the Parks and Recreation Department in control of the Dial-A-Ride program in hopes of revamping the program.

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Gina Muszynksi’s official title with Macomb Township is recreation facility supervisor.

As of November, she and Permelia Gross, the aquatics supervisor, can now add Dial-A-Ride supervisor to their titles.

Since the Board of Trustees transferred the responsibility of the Dial-A-Ride program from the supervisor’s office to the Parks and Recreation Department in November, it’s been a learning experience for two people accustomed to organizing recreational events.

“We’re having fun; we’re glad to be servicing them, but it’s a challenge,” Muszynski said.

The move was an effort by the township to revamp and make more efficient its transportation service for senior citizens and the disabled.

“We’ve called, asked many questions and sat in many meetings — just learning,” Gross said. “It’s been trial and error, learn as you go.”

Since that move, Murphy’s Law has been in full effect. Muszynksi said they’ve experienced flat tires, lost keys and buses that have suddenly died without explanation.

For those unexpected hurdles, the township has decided to keep the program’s operations housed in the recreation center instead of the Marvin Blank Senior Center, as planned, until the program’s new overseers have adjusted to the change.

“We’re taking it day by day,” Muszynski said on the decision to eventually move to the senior center.

Keeping the program close has allowed the Parks and Recreation Department to pay closer attention to it than when Dial-A-Ride was under the supervisor’s office.

“It was a rudderless ship,” Gross said of the program last year.

Last year, some of the drivers and coordinator positions were left vacant for months. Now, all nine part-time positions are filled.

“We’ve all been kind of new to this,” Gross said. “But what I’ve learned is that, in every other community, parks and recreation runs it.”

Through Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation grants, the township expanded its Dial-A-Ride service program. In addition to the traditional service of providing rides for senior citizens, a 10-passenger bus from SMART allowed the township to develop a fixed route for township students attending Macomb Academy in Clinton Township. Before the expansion, the special-needs students attending the academy were spending four hours a day on the bus.

“The kids really like it because they’re not on the buses as long as they were before,” said Lakesha Davenport, one of two part-time coordinators dispatching within the recreation center. “They were so happy when they first started (the fixed route). They were like, ‘Yes, you mean I get to go home right away?’”

Davenport, a Macomb resident who previously dispatched Dial-A-Ride vans in Warren, said the program also is essential to those living on fixed incomes.

“They don’t have to go out and pay for a cab, which is a lot of money,” she said.

Those interested in using Dial-A-Ride services can call (586) 226-4227 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. An application for the program can be downloaded at the Parks and Recreation Department website.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robert Guttersohn at rguttersohn@candgnews.com or at (586)218-5006.