No Easy Answers After Dial-a-Ride Service Freeze

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Malibu City Hall

On June 29, the City of Malibu sent out a notice that its Dial-a-Ride program, which serves a number of elderly and disabled residents, was abruptly halted. As of Tuesday, July 10, the program has yet to resume, leaving some residents scrambling to make it to medical appointments.

The government-subsidized program exists not only to help residents get around town to senior center events and grocery stores, but also takes residents to doctors appointments and in for medical treatments, including at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. 

“This is not like going to a pony party—these are people who are dying,” Kim Devore, a longtime Dial-a-Ride user, Malibu resident and Malibu Times columnist described.

Devore, who is recovering from a broken leg and shoulder, said she has been using the service for months and knows others who have used Dial-a-Ride to make it to radiation treatments and chemotherapy.

“I think a visit round trip on a regular cab to UCLA is about 160 bucks, at least, and [Dial-a-Ride] will take you for six,” Devore said. “It’s been a godsend for me. I couldn’t go to UCLA every day if I had to pay $200—I simply couldn’t.”

According to the website taxifarefinder.com, an average one-way taxi ride from the Malibu Court House in the Civic Center to UCLA Medical Center would cost about $58, or $67 including a tip. From Trancas, that same destination is estimated at about $84, or nearly $100 including a tip. 

Other alternatives include smartphone apps such as Uber and Lyft which, while efficient for the tech savvy, may be difficult to navigate for some of Dial-a-Ride’s elderly users.

Estimates provided by Uber put the trip from the Civic Center to UCLA Medical Center at about $40, while the trip from Trancas would cost $57. Uber competitor Lyft could run users about $32 from the Court House and $50 from Trancas Country Market.

According to Dial-a-Ride information still available on the City of Malibu’s website, fares started at $1 each way to and from the Malibu Senior Center, $2 inside Malibu city limits and $4 outside city limits. 

Devore’s solution has been to hire a 24-hour home caregiver for the time being—“a pain in the pocketbook.”

Malibu City Manager Reva Feldman, who was not available to speak by The Malibu Times deadline Tuesday, said previously the city was pursuing various alternatives for the service, including shuttles, buses or a rideshare app such as Uber or Lyft. 

The official process for the city to select a permanent replacement to take over the Dial-a-Ride service will involve going “out for bid” on different companies, which sources say could be a lengthy process, but the city is hoping to find a short-term solution in the interim.

City Council Member Laura Rosenthal said in an email Tuesday that, though she did not have details, it was her understanding Feldman and her team “were pursuing everything and trying to find a short and long term solution.”

Malibu Yellow Cab, the company that was previously in charge of the service, is now out of operation, though details were sparse.