Rockbridge Area Transportation System (RATS) was founded in 1995, as the result of a devastating car accident combined with the mind of a determined woman who believed everyone should have access to affordable transportation services. More than 25 years later, Joan Manley’s commitment to... Read More
Rockbridge Area Transportation System (RATS) was founded in 1995, as the result of a devastating car accident combined with the mind of a determined woman who believed everyone should have access to affordable transportation services. More than 25 years later, Joan Manley’s commitment to helping others in our community continues as we redefine “normal’ in a time of change and in a rural area where access to services remains a challenge.
Sadly, and ironically, one person we cannot currently help, is Joan Manley whose transportation need has changed from a wheelchair to a stretcher. None of our current vehicles can accommodate a stretcher, so when she needed to be transported to an outpatient doctor appointment in Charlottesville earlier this year, the closest transportation service provider able to transport her via a stretcher was in Kentucky – three hours away from her residence which was still 90 minutes away from her appointment!
Currently, RATS is the only Medicaid-certified transportation provider located in rural Rockbridge and Alleghany Counties, transporting riders to and from medical appointments throughout western and central Virginia. Yet, insurance carriers reimburse at or less than 73% of actual costs, and state agencies aren't able to fund additional vehicles to support the increasing needs in this area. Since March of 2021, seven were retired due to mileage near or above 300, 000 each. Replacing the vehicles is costly and with limited funding we aren't able to expand our services to meet the needs of others in the community.
Based on a comprehensive regional analysis over the past three years, data showed the number of community member whose employment opportunities were directly impacted by limited transportation resources was almost three times (17%) that of those who weren't limited (6%), according to the 2021 report, ALICE in Virginia: A Financial Hardship Study.
Since public transportation (even taxis) are not available in the western counties of Virginia, RATS is the only rural transit provider able to expand services in outlying and economically-challenged areas. By expanding service areas and improving access to employment and educational opportunities, the local economy can thrive and quality of life will improve... but increased funding is required to make this happen.
ASK: $50k can be used towards the purchase of:
$55,000 will provide a used stretcher-van vehicle to transport persons in stretchers to outpatient appointments, to their homes after being discharged from the hospital, or from hospice to their final time at home; or,
$65,000 will purchase a high-top van which can accommodate multiple wheelchairs and riders during a single transport and will fill part of the void caused by removing 7 vehicles throughout the year; or,
$45,000 will purchase a 15-passenger transit van to transport community members from rural areas to appointments, employment, schools, and even shopping stores.
Please support RATS.
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Rockbridge Area Transportation System
Michelle Watkins has advocated for nonprofit organizations throughout her career. The unique financial challenges and needs of increased rural transit services for mobility-challenged and disadvantaged persons are why she is so passionate about fundraising for Rockbridge Area Transportation System.
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