Advantage Ride, the on-demand transportation service that began a pilot program in March for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities in Tampa and surrounding counties, has been extended for another year.
The program received additional funding from the state legislature to extend the services of the program through June 30, 2020, for people on the Medicaid waiver and waiver waiting list. The inception of the pilot project was first explained in detail in a March 2019 post here on Florida Self-Advocacy Central.
The primary changes to the extended program are that passengers will now be charged a $4 co-pay for each leg of their trips, be limited to 10 trips per week, and can schedule rides between 2 and 48 hours in advance. Riders can still request a favorite driver. Passengers will be able to pay their co-pay with a debit or credit card. The method of payment must be provided at the time the reservation is made where the co-pay can be charged.
Prior to July 1, there was no charge to passengers for using the service. The new co-pays will help maintain the funding of the service through the extended period of the pilot program. Cancellations should be made no less than two hours in advance to avoid any cancellation fees and no-shows will still be charged the co-pay.
“The best thing about Advantage Ride is that it is an on-demand service,” said Arizona Jenkins, president of New Horizons Support Group for People with Disabilities, the FL SAND grassroots group located in Tampa. He frequently uses the service and is thrilled with the amount of independence it has given him.
The pilot program will continue to run in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Manatee Counties. “The vans are very clean. The drivers are very courteous and very nice people, ” said Jenkins.
This is a fantastic step that self-advocates have helped make a reality with their dedicated advocacy surrounding the issue of transportation for people with disabilities. More information can now be collected about how the service works and if any changes would be needed in the future. Self-advocates can see this as another concrete example of how their actions have brought about positive change and that their actions cause improvements to the services available in society. Click here to learn more about Advantage Ride or to schedule a ride.