Source: Sherman Publications

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NOTA offers financial aid to riders in need

by CJ Carnacchio

July 24, 2013

A new policy providing financial assistance to riders unable to afford the agency's fares was approved 8-0 by the North Oakland Transportation Authority (NOTA) last week.

Riders who cannot pay NOTA's fares due to economic hardship are now eligible to receive up to $100 per year for trips to the grocery store and doctor's appointments only.

"We haven't had a huge amount of need yet. I just wanted to have a policy in place in case it comes up," explained NOTA Director Lynn Gustafson.

NOTA provides transportation to senior citizens, disabled individuals and low-income folks living in Oxford, Addison and Orion townships.

The agency charges $1 each way for rides within the three townships and $2 each way for destinations outside the townships, but still within NOTA's service area.

In order to receive the $100 grant, a rider must write a letter to Gustafson explaining the circumstances surrounding their financial hardship and why they are unable to pay the agency's fares.

Monthly income and expenses must be included in this letter along with a list of the expected rides each month. The destination and reason for each trip must be included as well.

If NOTA's director believes the rider is eligible, the rider will receive up to $100 per year for grocery and medical-related trips.

The amount is dependent on the number of requests for assistance received and the amount of funds available.

Once an individual's $100 limit is reached, the rider must reapply for financial assistance, according to the policy.

NOTA is currently looking for sponsors for these types of riders. Sponsors can either donate to this program's fund or be billed for an individual's rides.

Gustafson told the NOTA board that right now, the need-based rider fund contains $225.

NOTA Vice Chairman and Oxford Township Supervisor Bill Dunn noted that if "we start running short" in this fund, he's willing to contact some potential donors.

"We're actually blessed in the north Oakland area with some very good corporate sponsors," he said. "When you go to them (for a donation), they don't even think twice."