The cost for people to use the service is affordable at $0.25/km. A wheelchair van is also available for Tele-Drive to use at a charge of $0.60/km.
Tele-Drive can do all this because of the volunteers who give their time and use their own cars to drive people.
The other part of the equation is funding. Volunteers receive $0.35/km to compensate for gas and the use of their car—this funding comes from donations, as well as support from the Bennett and Albert County Health Care (BACH) Foundation and United Way Greater Moncton and Southeastern New Brunswick.
Volunteers use their own cars to take people to a location, wait for them, and then take the people home again. Many volunteer drivers describe the experience as fun, worthwhile, interesting and a great way to meet people. Some drivers volunteer once a week, others once a month—you can choose when it’s convenient for you. The dispatcher understands when you say you can’t drive someone.
When the service started several years ago, many people had a vision that all areas of Westmorland and Albert Counties would have access to the same affordable transportation service in their community. However, there are still many areas in the counties that have yet to benefit from volunteer driving services.
In a collaborative effort, three groups have been working together to see that vision become a reality. Last year, Rural Rides in the Upper Petitcodiac River Region, Tele-Drive Albert County and the Volunteer Center of Southeastern New Brunswick driving program launched a pilot program in the Tantramar region covering Dorchester, Sackville and Port Elgin. The pooling of resources of the three groups proved to be a success. They are now looking to expand the service to Memramcook, Shediac and Beaubassin areas.
To free up the time of the managers of the three programs mentioned above, a dispatcher has been hired to manage the day-to-day calls from clients booking rides and coordinate the volunteer drivers. The managers are excited to welcome the new dispatcher, Mary Ann Ross, to the team.
Kim Beers of Tele-Drive Albert County is not leaving. She will be working on expanding the service, promoting the service in all regions, seeking new funding sources, exploring options to enhance the service, and seeking to add new services to further enhance the quality of life for those living in Westmorland and Albert Counties.
If you want a drive or want to volunteer, contact the dispatcher at 962-3073 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tele-Drive Albert County is looking for volunteer drivers throughout Albert County, particularly in Hillsborough. If you are considering volunteering, contact Kim Beers at email@example.com or 875-1190.