Members of the Union County Paratransit team accepted the award for Outstanding System of the Year from the New Jersey Council on Special Transportation (left-right: Michael Staley, Area Vice President, Veolia Transportation; Karen Dinsmore, Assistant Director, UCDHS; Kathleen Carmello, Paratransit Director, UCDHS; Melvin Barkley, Project Manager, Veolia Transportation; Helen Kirsch, Assistant Paratransit Director, UCDHS; Diego Jimenez, Mechanics Helper; Anissia Mitchell, Operations Manager, Veolia Transportation; Carl Simpkins, Assistant Project Manager, Veolia Transportation; Joseph Haligowski, Supervising Mechanic; Thomas Tiplady, Mechanic.
Union County, NJ – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce that the county’s Paratransit System has been honored with the Outstanding System of the Year Award from the New Jersey Council on Special Transportation. The Paratransit System helps seniors and those with disabilities remain independent, by providing affordable transportation for medical services, shopping, education, adult day care centers, and recreation.
“The Paratransit System is a vital lifeline that helps thousands of Union County residents take care of their daily needs and stay connected with their communities,” said Freeholder Chairman Deborah Scanlon. “This award represents an outstanding service to the public by the entire Paratransit team, and on behalf of the Freeholder Board I would like to thank each and every one.”
The Union County Paratransit System operates out of the Department of Human Services. It was created in 1979 by bringing together the transportation services of several non-profit agencies under one umbrella to better serve the needs of the senior and disabled residents of the county.
In its earlier years, Paratransit had a fleet of 18 vehicles making 86,000 trips annually. The need has grown since then and the fleet now includes 52 vehicles, which make approximately 232,000 trips annually.
The System of the Year Award recognizes that every aspect of a Paratransit system is working together effectively. That includes administration, funding, maintenance, scheduling, and vehicle operation.
“Paratransit’s on-time record is 97.2 percent, which is quite an achievement given the traffic density in Union County,” said Scanlon.
The vehicles are owned and maintained by Union County, which also provides administrative services. The reservationists, schedulers and drivers are provided under a private contract currently held by Veolia Transportation.
“Veolia’s rigorous training programs cover the drivers and the customer service staff, and the County manages an aggressive vehicle maintenance program. Together, we share the mission of providing an efficient transportation service that improves the quality of life for County residents,” said Human Services Director Frank Guzzo.
In addition to its core mission, Paratransit fills other important transportation needs in Union County. Currently it runs a shuttle designed to improve pedestrian safety on a stretch of Route 22 between Union, Kenilworth and Springfield, and a shuttle that helps connect more County residents with guidance and employment services at the county’s One-Stop Career Center in Plainfield.
Paratransit has also been called upon to fill temporary needs for municipalities. In one recent example, Paratransit provided a shuttle to help rail commuters avoid a 3.5 mile detour while a new bridge at the Summit/New Providence border was constructed.
For more information on any Union County press release, please contact Sebastian D’Elia, Communications Director for the County of Union, or a designee listed at the top of this press release. Please join the County of Union online at www.ucnj.org, on Facebook at www.ucnj.org/facebook, and on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/countyofunionnj