Thursday, July 26th, 2012

The Morris Area Para-Transit System, part of the county’s Department of Human Services, has been awarded a $406,125 Federal Transit Administration grant that it plans to use to help veterans, military families and others connect to jobs and services in their communities by improving access to local transportation options.

The grant, under the FTA’s Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative, will enable MAPS to develop a One-Click/One-Call Transportation Resource Center to coordinate local transportation services to veterans who live in the Morris County area, said Hope Hezel, director of special transportation.

“A major goal is to improve access to the Lyons Veterans Administration Healthcare Center in Basking Ridge, the East Orange Veterans Administration Healthcare Center and our own Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic in Morris Township,” Hezel said.

Updating the current technologies used by MAPS will allow the One-Click/One-Call Transportation Resource Center to offer additional assistance through computerized telephone services, including the ability to make/cancel trips and to receive automated trip reminders, Hezel said.

Other upgrades that will be made possible by the grant are a web portal for information and ride reservations; mobile data computers and vehicle location software; fixed route information and integration to provide for wider trip options; and scheduling software for municipal Dial-A-Ride programs to improve the coordination of trips throughout the county, Hezel said.

“While these technology upgrades will provide “one-to-one” personalized assistance to veterans who are currently unable to access transportation, we expect them, to benefit all MAPS riders,” Hezel said.

MAPS is Morris County’s curb-to-curb transportation service for senior citizens, people with disabilities and individuals living in rural areas of the county. Weekday transportation using small buses, cars, minivans and station wagons is provided by MAPS to various locations including medical facilities and education and employment sites.

MAPS operates from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. during normal business days. Because of the heavy demand for service, riders are asked to make their reservations at least 48 hours to one week in advance.

Riders may reserve their trips by e-mail at [email protected], or by telephone by calling (888) 282-6277 in the Greater Morris Region; (973) 208-6123 in Jefferson Township; and (973) 835-8885 in Butler, Kinnelon, Riverdale, Pequannock and Lincoln Park.

More information about MAPS may be obtained by calling the MAPS office at (973) 829-8103 or (888) 282-6277 on online at www.morrishumanservices.org/adv/maps.asp.