Jan. 26, 2021 By Christina Santucci
Seniors who live in two large sections of Queens can call for a free ride to their doctor’s office–or for a coronavirus vaccine appointment – thanks to a fresh infusion of funding to an existing transportation service.
The Free Senior Transportation Program, started by Council Member Paul Vallone in 2017, recently received an injection of $150,000 from Vallone and Council Member Bob Holden, allowing the service to continue, Vallone announced Monday.
The rides are available to residents of northeast Queens – in Vallone’s council district – and central Queens – in Holden’s district. Eligible seniors can request to go to medical and vaccine appointments within the five boroughs and western Nassau County. The program is expected to continue until all funding runs out.
Vallone said in a statement that the service will help northeast Queens seniors get to their vaccine appointments – as the area does not have any vaccination sites despite having a large population of older residents.
The Free Transportation Program has provided Queens seniors since its launch with thousands of rides to and from important medical appointments, Vallone said. “Now, faced with a public health crisis and with critical vaccine distribution underway, we must ensure that our most vulnerable populations are protected and kept healthy and safe.
Vallone said he allocated $90,000 in funding to the program, and Holden provided an additional $50,000 in partnership with Speaker Corey Johnson.
The Free Senior Transportation Program supplements a city initiative that provides rides through Access-A-Ride, ambulette services and cab service via Curb for seniors who schedule their vaccines at city-operated sites.
To schedule a ride, northeast Queens seniors should call the Selfhelp Clearview Senior Center at 718-224-7888 between 9 a.m. and noon and leave a message with their name and phone number. Staff will then call back and arrange the rides. Residents of Holden’s district should call the Selfhelp Maspeth Senior Center at 718-429-3636. If their medical appointment is on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday, seniors should call the prior Friday.