Harris County program offers seniors cab rides at discounted rate

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A number of senior citizens in the Houston area don't drive. There's a service that provides transportation at a discounted rate, and it's something Patsy Alexander found very helpful during a difficult time in her life.

"I'm a cancer patient, and I needed a ride to go to my doctors' appointments," explains Alexander. After asking around, she received a referral to Harris Country Rides.

"Harris County Rides is a discounted transportation program for seniors and people with disabilities, and we've been in operation since 2003, and we provide service for seniors and people with disabilities all over Harris Country," explains Vernon Chambers, Assistant Transit Director of Harris Country Community Services.

The process is simple, says Chambers.

"We can mail them an application, they can go online and fill it out, or they can come here to our administrative office," Chambers said.

Applicants must provide proof of age or a doctor's note if they're unable to drive, and the approval process to get a ride can be as fast as the same day.

"We have an agreement with all cab companies all over Houston," explained Chambers.

All drivers must meet certain criteria. "We screen them for insurance, safety, drug and alcohol testing, so we do all of that to be part as a contract in the program," Chambers said.

"They pick you up on time, they bring you back on time, and it's just a blessing to be on Rides. It is so easy, and then the people, oh they are amazing. And I tell them when I talk to them. Look, I'm tearing up," said Alexander.

Even for the taxi drives, like Emmit Lewis, helping folks like Alexander is a happy, and rewarding experience.

"We were having church before we even got to our destination. It's so fun. It makes driving a cab very, very easy," says Lewis.

And for Alexander, a woman who's been through so much over the past year, she easily shows how grateful she is for a program like RIDES.

"That's all I have, are happy tears," she said.

Harris Country Rides pays 50 percent of rides through federal grants, but some riders pay nothing if they've received funding through one of 23 agencies partnered with Harris Country Rides. You can find that info here: harriscountyrides.com.
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