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Volunteers help shuttle Hinesburg residents

HINESBURG Hinesburg Rides, the model rural transportation program serving area residents, has had a successful start, according to coordinator Karla Munson. The new program was initiated in 2006 and seeks to address the need for transportation among residents who lack the means to get to important appointments, or even just to shop. It officially got under way in 2007 after being awarded a $30,000 grant from the federal United We Ride Grant program, a national initiative created by executive order of President Bush in 2007. The grant has been administered through the town and the Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization (CCMPO). Today, United We Ride has 12 volunteers who drive people, on a need basis, to medical appointments, to the store or on whatever errands they need to run to maintain the quality of their lives. The rides are coordinated through the Special Services Transportation Agency (SSTA) where riders are matched with drivers with 48 hours advance notice. The Hinesburg Rides program also sponsors a Commuter Carpool Program and recently held a Carpool Week at the commuter lot located behind the Town Clerks Office, where volunteers arrived early every morning with free coffee and doughnuts for people who were interested in carpooling. There was a great response, and we had 21 people sign up, said Munson, adding that the lot is not just for Hinesburg residents. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to use the Park and Ride lot. One of the results of the Carpool Week is a datatbase containing participants information that will be emailed to the interested people, with potential matches for carpooling. Hinesburg Rides success has led them to apply for a further grant $40,000 grant from CCMPO to expand the program. The volunteers and program coordinators of Hinesburg Rides are continuing to spread the word about transportation options and availability by setting up information tables at area events, hoping to continue to generate awareness for this successful grass roots program. People who need rides may call SSTA at 802-878-1527 at least 48 hours in advance and sign up. SSTA will dispatch a volunteer and tell the rider who their driver will be. Hinesburg Rides is looking for new volunteer drivers anyone who would like more information about becoming a driver may call Karla Munson at 482-2778.

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