United Way Spotlight

United Way Spotlight by Bonnie Sorensen You Matter!, the 2005 United Way of Vermillion campaign, kicked off in September with a goal of $85,000.

We are currently reaching 20 percent of that goal. Your donations are friends helping friends and neighbors helping neighbors. The United Way of Vermillion helps fund 25 local agencies. This week we spotlight Vermillion Public Transportation.

Taking Vermillion

for a ride

Public transportation is growing throughout the country. An estimated 14 million Americans ride public transportation each weekday and an additional 25 million use it on a less frequent but regular basis.

American families spend 18 percent of their household budgets on transportation, making it the second largest household expenditure after housing. America's families spend more than 19 cents out of every dollar earned on transportation, an expense second only to housing and greater than food and health care combined.

With increasing fuel and insurance prices, transit is becoming a real alternative for many Americans. For every passenger mile traveled, public transportation is twice as fuel-efficient as private automobiles, sport-utility vehicles, and light trucks.

Vermillion has public transportation, too.

Originally started as a coordinated effort between the Senior Citizens Center and SESDAC, Inc., Vermillion Public Transit (VPT) has been providing transportation for the citizens of Vermillion since August of 1997. One of the myths that have followed VPT to this day is that the service is only for senior citizens and people with disabilities. That is just not true. The service is for everyone.

The only criterion to meet is that you need a ride. The service has grown from two buses providing about 1,000 rides per month to an all time high of three buses providing over 5,000 rides last month.

People ride for numerous reasons: doctor appointments, shopping, work, school, visiting friends, community events and rides into Vermillion from the airport or the bus depot. Many of the people that ride transit have no other way to get around Vermillion. People are able to become and remain independent without having to rely on family and friends to help them get to where they need to go.

The riders of VPT are very happy with the service and glad to have the ride. The buses meet ADA specifications and are able to provide transportation for people who use wheelchairs and scooters. This service is a door to door service, which means the drivers will help you from your door to the door of your destination.

During the college year, the university contracts with the service to provide transportation Thursday through Saturday from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. This shuttle service is also for everyone and runs an east and west route with designated stops. It is not door to door service. There is one bus operating during these hours. Two buses operated and provided over 1,200 rides in the three nights during the Dakota Days weekend.

The hours of the regular service are: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Rides are scheduled on a first come, first serve basis. Riders are encouraged to call well in advance of the time they need a ride. For more information or to schedule a ride, call 624-RIDE.

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