CHEER concerned with paratransit cuts

March 20, 2014

As executive director of CHEER Inc., a nonprofit agency responsible for senior citizen programs throughout Sussex County, I get pleas from senior citizens who are begging me, on behalf of CHEER, to help with their many very serious concerns that they are having trying to live on a fixed income. Topping the recent concerns are the DART (Delaware Authority for Regional Transit) rate changes which took effect recently and the upcoming changes to DART Paratransit which become effective July 1.

Many are very tired of hearing that “paratransit services are not sustainable at the current rate,” and that supposedly, everyone agrees. Well, I do not agree, and have not talked to one single person who does believe this. Medicaid has not been sustainable for years, but it has never been cut nor has there ever been a charge to the clients. Paratransit is every bit as essential as is Medicaid, which seems to have no budget restrictions whatsoever.

Paratransit in Sussex County is essential to hundreds, if not thousands, of frail elderly who can no longer drive. It is not their fault that the Delaware Department of Transportation has failed to adequately plan and prepare for this predictable outcome. What happened to those transportation planners and all those consultants that something like this can even happen in a retirement state?

CHEER will do its very best to send the message to our elected officials, but I would advise senior citizens and their family who are as concerned as I am about the future of transportation services in Sussex County to speak, if not for yourself, for your parents and relatives who are fast becoming transportation dependent. I also recommend that you send letters to the editors of your local newspapers as I am doing.

Arlene S. Littleton
CHEER Inc. executive director

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