Stepping Up to the Challenge

Over the past year, Paratransit Reservationist Holly Kent has stepped up to take on additional responsibilities during the challenges of ­­the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“In addition to scheduling reservations for Paratransit and Rides for Seniors, I am also helping in our eligibility department,” said Kent. “I help process applications for people who need our service so that we are able to get applications in quicker and can get the applicants riding with us sooner.”

Kent and her teammates in Paratransit have taken on various changes as they have arisen in the rapidly evolving situation, including changes in scheduling rides.

“We have upped our game to include same-day scheduling. If there is an opening, we can schedule a ride as soon as two hours from the time a rider calls,” said Kent. “How we estimate time and plan a ride has also changed when moving to single-passenger rides. Before riders were on a van that would make multiple stops for multiple passengers.”

With single passenger rides, the passenger is taken straight from one destination to the next, which allows for social distancing and provides a safer environment on Paratransit Vans.

“We as a department have had to be flexible and roll with the changes as they happen,” Kent said.

In addition to adapting her work to serve traditional Paratransit Riders, Kent has also worked to make a smoother onboarding process for those using the Rides for Seniors program.

“I have been helping transition our first-time senior riders into setting up an ID with us so that the reservation process is more streamlined,” said Kent. “When they have an ID with us, we have all the information we need on file so that as soon as they call, we can get them scheduled for a ride.”

Rides for Seniors allows people age 60 and up to make a reservation for a ride the same or next day, costing only $2 one way.

When reflecting on her job with Paratransit, Kent expresses a sense of importance in her work.

“It feels good knowing that we are helping seniors or adults in need,” Kent said. “We provide a lot of people a way to get out of their home when they may have not had a safe option if it weren’t for our service.”

Kent encourages anyone in need of safe and accessible transportation to consider Paratransit or Rides for Seniors and call 509-328-1552.

“A lot of people don’t realize we are here seven days a week, even on holidays,” said Kent. “We will continue to be here answering each call and are happy to help you.”

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