By Tamas Mondovics

Elderly residents and low-income and disabled persons who do not have or cannot afford their own transportation can breathe a little easier today.

At their regular Board meeting last month, Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners unanimously (7-0) approved to help fund the County’s Sunshine Line service and it’s Bus Pass Program.

According to Sunshine Line Division Manager, Ed Wisniewski, the Bus Pass Program provides free daily and monthly Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) bus passes to more than 5,000 transportation disadvantaged residents per year.

“The bus passes are provided to those who qualify and travel within three quarter miles of a HART bus route and are able to ride a HART bus and is a vital part of serving area residents on a daily basis,” Wisniewski said.

The program operates on a $4.8 million annual budget, which according to Wisniewski, is mainly supported through multiple grants with the county picking up the rest.

Transportation is provided primarily to medical appointments and Aging Services day care and nutrition sites, but non-medical trips are provided on a space-available basis.

Sunshine Line does not provide Medicaid transportation.

The program has been in place for more than 20 years, sporting more than 700 trips per day as it   provides door-to-door transportation and bus passes for all those who do not have or cannot afford their own transportation.

Reservations may be made up to up to seven days in advance, and must be made no less than two days in advance. Bus passes must be requested at least five days in advance to allow time for the pass to be mailed.

In May, Sunshine Line received a commendation from the Board for consistently high standards over the past five years, meeting or exceeding all minimum standards for reliability, on time performance and safety.

On August 7, Sunshine Line received the award for Urban Community Transportation Coordinator of the Year from the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged.

For additional information and qualification criteria, contact Hillsborough County Sunshine Line at 272-7272.


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