LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Transportation is a growing concern in Maine, especially among the elderly who can no longer drive.
For 30-years Community Concepts has been providing rides for seniors, children and others who don’t have access to transportation. They’ve done it through a volunteer driver program. But that program is becoming increasingly difficult to fund.
For Sadie Wing even a simple trip to the store was hard to come by. She’s never had a driver’s license.
“I guess I’m one of these people that gets too nervous behind the wheel. I had a permit two or three times, but each time I couldn’t go for my license”, she said.
Now, with her health on the line, the rides she gets from The Community Concepts Volunteer Driver program to dialysis three times a week, are literally life-saving.
“Without community concepts I have no way to get there, no way. And without it I would die", Wing said.
Inside the Community Concepts dispatch center, operators are very busy arranging 600 to 1000 rides a day, throughout communities in Central, Coastal, Southern and Western Maine.
“We’re only hitting a fraction of what’s actually needed”, said Program Director Brad Edwards.
Edwards says funding it is a constant struggle. They pull together donations and small grants to keep it going.
“If a grant doesn’t come through, the service falls through and people are left without rides”, he said.
Edwards is now pushing for a bill making its way through the legislature. LD 1248 would provide stable funding for transportation programs, including this one, for at least the next two years.
“If we have a good idea what we’re getting the first year, we can plan on the second year and try to get some infrastructure in place to really continue with it and extend it long term”, he said.
While the demand is great now, it’s only going to increase as Maine’s population ages. A demand that will be difficult to keep up with, without a stable source of funding.