PALM DESERT — A $1.3 million grant will help improve access to transportation for individuals with mobility issues throughout Riverside County and the Coachella Valley.

Over the next three years, the grant is estimated to help more than 4,500 individuals across Riverside County get free rides to medical appointments, grocery stores, and other essential services through the Independent Living Partnership’s Transportation Reimbursement and Information Project (TRIP).

U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz, MD, D-Palm Desert, and the Independent Living Partnership announced the grant this week.

mobility

Congressman Raul Ruiz, MD

“Without access to reliable transportation, everyday essential activities like going to the grocery store or a doctor’s appointment become impossibly difficult. That’s why I am so happy to have worked with the Independent Living Partnership to secure this funding so that individuals with mobility issues can access the services and activities that contribute to a healthy and full life,” Ruiz said in a prepared statement. “I will continue fighting to improve access to affordable transportation in our region so that everyone can enjoy the freedom and empowerment of living independently.”

In every community, there are older adults, others with disabilities, and the seriously ill that have mobility issues and are unable to travel to meet basic subsistence, medical treatment, and quality of life needs due to lack of service availability or mobility limitations caused by their physical or mental challenges, Richard Smith, Executive of Director of the Independent Living Partnership, said in prepared statement.

“Since 1993, we have provided more than 2 million trips for older adults and people with disabilities who could not drive, didn’t have family to drive for them and who could not use public transportation options,” Smith said. “The intention of TRIP has been to provide a transportation alternative for these individuals to connect them with needed community services and resources and to keep them from being isolated or homebound.”

Earlier this year, Independent Living Partnership was awarded Measure A grant funding from the Riverside County Transportation Commission, which maintains highways and public transportation services across Riverside County. The $1.3 million grant will help fund Independent Living Partnership’s TRIP, a program that provides mileage reimbursements for volunteers to drive neighbors who are unable to use public transportation due to age, illness, or disability.

The TRIP program was established in 1993 as a partnership between the Independent Living Partnership, the Riverside County Office on Aging, and the Riverside County Transportation Commission. To date, TRIP has provided more than two million free, escorted trips for more than 13,000 Riverside County residents who live with mobility challenges. The program has received numerous awards and is regarded as a national model for volunteer driving programs.