ELBURN – Elburn Village Board members will vote in June on partnering with Blackberry Township to provide low-cost rides to medical appointments for eligible seniors and people with disabilities who live in Elburn.
Blackberry Township Supervisor Fred Dornback attended the Village Board’s May 21 meeting to present information about the program, answer any questions trustees had, and to give the board a draft of an intergovernmental agreement between the township and the village for its review.
Kane County’s Ride in Kane is a curb-to-curb service that uses small buses, minivans and at times taxis and is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Fares for the one-way rides are $4 for the first 10 miles. Blackberry Township riders pay an additional $1.50 for every mile over the 10 miles, and the end point must be within the boundaries of Kane County.
Riders must be 65 years of age or older and must be medically ineligible to obtain a state of Illinois driver’s license. Most of the demand for these services is from people with chronic medical needs, including patients on dialysis, Dornback said.
A majority of Elburn residents live within Blackberry Township and so are eligible through its program. However, Blackberry Township ends at Reader Street, and Elburn residents north of Reader Street live in Campton Township. Campton Township residents may only make trips up to 10 miles and may use the service no more than once per week.
Dornback said that when an Elburn resident living north of Reader Street approaches him for services, he has to turn them down.
“My goal is to cover everyone in Elburn,” Dornback said.
Blackberry Township makes $15,000 of funding available per year for Ride in Kane, and if that amount were to be used up before the end of the fiscal year, the township would have to begin turning people away.
“Right now, it’s manageable,” he said. “Everyone who uses it needs it.”
Dornback said that he tries to steer people to other resources if the township can’t help them.
When a senior living center was recently built in Blackberry Township, Dornback said the demand went up, which is when the township increased its budget for Ride in Kane from $12,000 to $15,000 per year. He said the need will rise as additional older people move into the area.
“We’re still small enough that people out here take care of each other,” Dornback said.
He told Elburn trustees his projections indicate that if the village spent half of the $3,000 he is suggesting it set aside for the program, he would be surprised.
Trustees were in general agreement about the village joining with the township to offer Ride in Kane services.
“It’s a low price for a very good service for our senior population to get to doctors and other medical appointments,” Village President Jeff Walter said.
Trustee Ken Anderson said if the village approves it, he would want to make sure the village evaluates the program after six months to make sure it’s meeting the needs of the people and to ensure there is no one taking unfair advantage of it.
According to Jennifer Becker, director of planned programming for the Kane County Division of Transportation and manager of Ride in Kane for the county, Ride in Kane is funded through the federal government, in conjunction with local matching funds required from Kane County, Pace Suburban Bus and the local sponsors.
“There are 15 active sponsors,” Becker said.
The sponsors are townships, municipalities and social service agencies.
In order to participate in the program, individuals must pre-register with a sponsor.
The people who are able to obtain rides through the program are grateful for it, Dornback said recently.
“I’ve had people tell me what a relief it is for their families not to have to take a day off of work to drive someone to an appointment,” he said.