WV Transportation

WV Transportation

WV Transportation

WV Department of Transportation

West Virginia Division of Public Transit helps rural agencies procure minivans to serve seniors



The West Virginia Department of Transportation’s (WVDOT) Division of Multimodal Transportation Facilities' Division of Public Transit recently helped procure eight handicapped-accessible minivans to help rural seniors get to medical appointments or other places they need to go in communities that may not have access to bus or taxi service.

“The WVDOT is more than just roadways,” said Bill Robinson, director of the Division of Public Transit. “We seek ways to find transportation options for all the citizens of the state.”

Public Transit procured the vehicles through the federal 5310 Program, which is designed to enhance mobility for seniors and individuals with disabilities throughout the country. Local community groups to which the minivans are supplied are responsible for coming up with a 20 percent match of the approximately $64,000 cost of each vehicle.

The special minivans are lowered and equipped with a ramp to allow the easy loading of a wheelchair, which can be safely secured inside. The vans will each hold one wheelchair and three passengers; if a wheelchair isn’t being accommodated an extra set of seats can fold down to house two more passengers.
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Local agencies getting the minivans include:
  • Central West Virginia Community Action
  • Family Service - Upper Ohio Valley
  • Pocahontas County Senior Citizens
  • Kanawha Valley Senior Services
  • Braxton County Senior Citizens Center
  • Council of Senior Tyler Countians
Several of the communities receiving the minivans don’t have access to public transportation, taxicabs or ride-sharing services. Division of Public Transit Purchasing John Caldwell said the minivans are smaller than buses, making them easier to maneuver in traffic and cheaper for local senior centers to operate. They can also pick up patrons right at their front door.

“Unfortunately, some folks don’t have people to take them places,” Caldwell said. “They need to go to the grocery store. They need to go to their doctor. They need to get their medications. The 5310 Program helps them with that.”

The Division of Public Transit was fortunate to get the minivans when they did. The COVID-19 epidemic and resulting supply chain issues have made the vehicles extremely hard to get.

“The manufacturers are having issues getting the chassis from the factories that make the vehicles,” Caldwell said. “There’s a long backlog of people trying to purchase these vehicles.”
Prior to COVID, Caldwell said he could get a new minivan within 150 days of completing the paperwork. Now there’s a wait of up to 30 months.

The Division of Public Transit was able to take advantage of another agency’s cancelled contract to get the minivans now instead of later.