HST Office OverviewIn Massachusetts the Human Service Transportation (HST) Office works to support and increase transportation options for consumers to access health care, jobs, social services and a full range of opportunities within the community. The HST Office was established in 2001 within the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) to coordinate the transportation programs of three EOHHS agencies. Today the HST Office manages a large brokered transportation system for over 37,000 consumers of various state agencies. Select Regional Transit Authorities implement transportation requests and subcontract with local transportation vendors to provide over 5 million trips each year for eligible EOHHS consumers. Working with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), the HST Office also serves as a resource for human service transportation-related matters and encourages coordination and mobility management strategies among public transit, community transportation, and private resources to improve access to health and human services, employment and community life for all, but especially the transportation disadvantaged.
Volunteer Driver Programs Help Residents Participate in Community Life
Across the Commonwealth, volunteer driver programs are providing opportunities for people to participate in their communities and access life-sustaining services. The EOHHS Human Service Transportation Office is pleased to release a new information brief on volunteer driver programs. This brief is the second in our Massachusetts Community Transportation Series and discusses the basic elements of successful volunteer driver programs as well as best practices around insurance and volunteer screening. Organizations that are thinking about starting a new program or looking at ways to streamline and improve their existing volunteer driver program will find it a useful resource.
Volunteer driver programs can have a huge impact on riders’ lives. For example, Joe (pictured above) is a vibrant young man who lives in central Massachusetts. He is an avid sports fan and loves to be actively engaged in his community. He is also a person with an intellectual disability. When he and his family were notified that paratransit service would no longer be available due to route changes on the local bus line, they had nowhere to turn until they found out about the volunteer driver program at the Millbury Council on Aging. Since then, Joe has had transportation to medical appointments, employment, and internships. He is also enrolled in a training program at the local community college. When he finishes the program, he will be ready to work in an office setting – all of which is made possible by the transportation he gets through the volunteer driver program. His mother reports that the drivers have gotten to know Joe personally and are “sensitive, respectful, and easy-going — Millbury is a lifeline for us.”
Volunteer driver programs are indeed a lifeline for people who have no other form of transportation available to them. As well as helping people get to work and school, volunteer driver programs help reduce isolation for elderly individuals. Mrs. T., 83, from a Boston Metro North community, had been the primary caregiver for her husband. When he entered a nursing home in a nearby community, there was no way to get there via public transportation though it was only six miles away. Through the TRIP Metro North program, Mrs. T. was able to get rides from a friend and reimburse her for the mileage so she could visit Mr. T. While her husband has since passed away, Mrs. T. continues to use TRIP Metro North for personal errands and other shopping. Since her children work full time, she said she would be “lost without TRIP.” She called TRIP a “wonderful service that really is a lifesaver.” For information about volunteer driver programs in Massachusetts, or to locate one near you, visit our volunteer driver webpage.