NORTH SMITHFIELD – A grant-funded program offering free transportation once a week to seniors who live in each of the town’s four adult housing complexes will resume next week, after a long hiatus prompted by pandemic concerns.
The Town Council unanimously approved a bid for the service at their meeting on Monday, Oct. 18 to Valley Transportation, the only company to respond to the town’s request for proposals.
The program, started in 2017, provides free rides to local markets, such as Brigido’s, Walmart and Stop & Shop, with a single stop each week for each of the town’s four senior living complexes: Deerfield Commons, The Meadows, Colonial Village and Gateway Apartments.
“It’s been well-received by the four locations that we service,” Asst. Town Planner Roberta Moneghan told the council.
Monaghan noted that the town received a state grant of $10,912 this year to pay for the program. Valley, which charges the town an hourly rate depending on the vehicle required, has been chosen as the operator every year.
“We’ve been very happy with their service,” Moneghan said.
Valley has a variety of vehicles, and charges $40 an hour for a regular ride, $50 per hour for a larger vehicle or $60 for handicap accessible transportation.
The planner noted that the service is used sparingly in the colder months, and typically stops completely by mid winter.
And after it stopped for a winter break in 2019, it did not resume in spring, as concerns over COVID-19 kept people indoors.
“We didn’t run it at all last year,” Moneghan said.
This year, Moneghan said the grant is expected to fully funds the program through the end of June. Any extra funds remaining will be used for special group trips for town seniors, such as an outing to the Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket that took place in 2019.
“We’ve always had enough,” Moneghan said, adding of the service, “We’d like to start as soon as possible.”
Seniors interested in utilizing the free transportation should speak to management at their individual housing complex.