After scrambling for five weeks to find affordable transportation to get to appointments with doctors and hospitals, as well as the Malibu Senior Center and grocery stores, Malibu Dial-a-Ride participants can now rest easier. The city relaunched the service on August 6 with interim service provider Ventura Transit System. Residents who depend on Dial-a-Ride had been left without any service when Malibu Yellow Cab suddenly went out of business on June 29.
Katie Gallo, Malibu recreation supervisor, said that during the five weeks without service, city hall provided Dial-a-Ride users with information about alternative transportation methods like Access, Para Transit, Metro Schedules and Uber. She said there was not a noticeable decline in attendance at the Senior Center, because “Many participants carpooled or got rides from family and friends.”
Malibu resident and The Malibu Times Entertainment Editor Kim Devore, a regular user of Dial-a-Ride, said she had to hire a private driver to get to her frequent medical appointments during the time no service was available.
“It’s a lot of money to have the driver with you all day—especially to haul yourself over to UCLA Ronald Reagan and back again in summer traffic. It’s $100 or more,” she said. “This had to be a hardship for those on fixed incomes.”
Devore pointed out that once Yellow Cab went out of business, it wasn’t just Dial-a-Ride that was affected—it also left the city without taxi service other than Uber or Lyft.
“Dial-a-Ride was a godsend to me,” she said. “I rarely had to share a ride, and I became very friendly with the drivers over the years.”
Now that Dial-a-Ride service is back, participants can make reservations for rides Monday through Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Regularly scheduled shared ride services to healthcare facilities outside Malibu will leave daily at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and return at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Ventura Transit System, the interim transportation provider, is a 60-year old company based in Camarillo, with a fleet that includes town cars, vans and handicapped accessible vehicles.
In the meantime, the city has put out a request for proposals (RFP) to find a contractor to continue the program on a permanent basis. The RFP went out July 23, and qualified transit operators have until September 6 to respond.
A city analysis of the Dial-a-Ride service from July 2017 to May 2018 shows that $157,823 was billed to the city by the contractor, and that a total of $14,240 in fares was collected from passengers. That means that over 90 percent of the cost is funded by the city’s Proposition A transportation funds, with additional funds from grants or other outside funding sources.
Participants can register for Dial-a-Ride services by filling out an application at the Malibu Senior Center and providing a copy of his or her ID and proof of residence within city limits. Participants under the age of 60 with a disability need a doctor’s note. Approved applicants are added to the program within 48 hours.
According to Gallo, there are currently 160 residents registered for Dial-A-Ride, with 30-40 active users. The program averages about 350 trips per month.
Dial a-Ride is a government-subsidized, low-cost transportation service for seniors and persons with disabilities. Malibu offers pick-up and drop-off to residents age 60 and up from addresses within the city limits to the Malibu Senior Center, grocery stores and other in-city destinations, as well as daily service to locations in Santa Monica that are inside the square bordered by Pacific Coast Highway, 26th Street, California Avenue and Colorado Avenue, as well as the UCLA Medical Center in West LA, Kaiser Permanente Hospitals in Woodland Hills and West LA; and the Veteran’s Hospital in West LA.
The fare is $1 per one-way trip to and from the Malibu Senior Center, $2 per one-way trip to all locations within the city limits of Malibu, and $4 per one-way trip to the locations outside city limits. A number of local towns offer Dial-a-Ride besides Malibu, including Thousand Oaks, Agoura Hills, LA, Santa Monica and Camarillo, although specific rules can vary from place to place.
To make a reservation, call Ventura Transit System at 424.346.8444. For more information, call the senior center at 310.456.2489 ext. 357.