Accessible transportation is vital. Families without safe, reliable ways to get to work, childcare, groceries, the doctor’s office or school are impacted in tremendous ways. For individuals in Grays Harbor, Pacific, Thurston and Mason counties, the Coastal Community Action Program’s Driven to Opportunity service provides the missing transportation link that supports daily life and builds economic success.
Driven to Opportunity is funded by the state Department of Transportation and offers rides to qualified low income, TANF recipients and special needs riders. Users can be connected to public transit or taken directly to destinations like job sites, childcare, job training, interviews and more.
Driven To Opportunity Transportation Supervisor Amanda Farrar explains that the program has existed for the past 14 years in Grays Harbor County and is expanding into Mason and Thurston counties September 2021. They currently have 32 active clients enrolled. “We have designed the program to help clients reduce or eliminate barriers around transportation,” Farrar explains. “We try our best to not to compete with public transit, therefore, at times we might pick up a client to connect them to public transportation.”
Signing up is free. “We are targeting low-income clients who have transportation barriers,” says Farrar. “We assist clients who are in process of getting their license back, have had car trouble and need to save for car repairs, live off bus routes or have transportation needs not served by public routes, such as swing or night shifts.”
For one local family, the program has been truly life changing. “Driven To Opportunity has had a huge impact on our entire family, but most importantly my adult son, Andrew,” says mom Shawna Myers. “Andrew was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor at eight years old. The lasting effects of the tumor, brain surgery and treatments left him with many deficits, some of which directly impact his ability to operate a motor vehicle and safely access the public transportation system.”
“Andrew has utilized DTO to not only obtain his college degree, but also work towards, and eventually obtain a full-time position,” says Myers proudly. “Without DTO, the transportation support would have fallen on family, who would simply not be able to accommodate his need on a regular basis, due to their own work requirements. By utilizing this program, it has allowed my son to be self-sufficient and independent, for which I am forever grateful!”
To use the program, clients must submit their schedule to Farrar routinely so logistics can be planned well in advance. There is no time limit on use of the service once the intake paperwork is completed so long as all program policies are followed. As their Mission Statement explains, “The Driven to Opportunity program is dedicated to creating a model coordinated transportation system that serves all people with special transportation needs, efficiently uses all traditional and non-traditional community transportation resources; is easy to access regardless of who needs the ride or their ability to pay; is integrated and interdependent; and contributes to a livable community, a viable economy and a sustainable environment.”
Americans spend an average of 18 days each year behind the wheel. But cars are expensive to purchase, insure, fuel and maintain. Bus transit is a lifesaver but typically runs limited routes on limited hours, especially around weekends and holidays. Life doesn’t always happen between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. so programs like Driven to Opportunity bridge the all-important gaps.
“I am not at all hesitant to say, that having access to this program has greatly improved the quality of my son’s life, his future and the normalcy we all strive for-for our loved ones,” says Shawna Myers. If transportation is an issue, reach out today and let Farrar and the Coastal Community Action Program team help you too.
Call 360.533.5100 extension 124 with questions or to ask for assistance. Farrar and the Coastal Community Action Program team are happy to get you back on the road again. You can also visit their website for employment support, housing and energy services, housing rental assistance, health and nutrition programs, home care or community services and the Coastal Energy project. Their team will do whatever it takes to remove barriers to achieving economic stability, starting from a simple ride to work.