Seniors have transport options but no consensus
Marion resident Helen Reznicek’s help transporting Jean Pierce began as a friendship.
“Jean and I have been friends for years, and our husbands died around the same time,” Reznicek said. “She’s 20 years older than me, but we just started doing stuff together.”
Reznicek has now been helping her friend for three years and added cousin Evelyn Matz to the list a year ago.
“I enjoy doing it for them,” she said. “I’m willing to help people out since I’m retired.”
There are other options than taking rides from neighbors, though.
OCCK Transportation Inc. from Salina also fulfills transportation, said Brandi Peterson, lead dispatcher for OCCK.
Peterson, a five-year employee, said the service has been available but hasn’t seen frequent use.
“I haven’t noticed a lot of calls from the area,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s because we’re so far, or people utilize a different service, but I know we’re growing.”
OCCK charges $2 per ride in the town of origin, which includes driving to pick people up, and 10 cents per mile for traveling on the open road.
While OCCK transports many retirees, they are not the company’s only customers, Peterson said.
“We have a lot of variety in the people we serve,” she said. “You’d think a majority of those would be the elderly. That might be a factor, but we also of a lot for individuals whose car broke down, or maybe they have a disability.”
One difference is that Reznicek can build relationships over time.
“This is a little more personal,” she said.
Drivers and dispatchers don’t get to know customers on that, but interaction is still very important, Peterson said.
“The employees who answer the phones might be the first to talk to people,” she said. “That sets the tone for what you think of us within the first few seconds. That relays onto the drivers, and they get more face-to-face interaction.”
An application must be filled out prior to first trip for data collection purposes, but OCCK will transport riders anywhere within seven county area surrounding Salina, including Dickinson, Marion, and McPherson.
If a customer uses Medicaid, that will dictate how far OCCK goes. Arrangements must be made 48 hours in advance.
OCCK mobility manager Claire Mullen helps individuals find transportation outside OCCK’s coverage area.
“Claire’s a very good asset for helping people around areas we don’t quite get to,” Peterson said.