Local officials and community members gather for the July 12 launch of ITNMontereyCounty’s ValleyLine in Soledad. Among those in attendance were Alliance on Aging Executive Director Teresa Sullivan (far left) and Soledad Mayor Anna Velazquez (far right). (Contributed)

SALINAS VALLEY — As part of its rural expansion efforts, Independent Transportation Network Monterey County has introduced ValleyLine, a transportation program for seniors, veterans and visually impaired adults who live in the cities of Soledad, Gonzales, Chualar and Indian Springs.

The ValleyLine project brings to fruition an eight-month development phase led by a steering committee of local residents and community stakeholders. The goal is to focus on improving transit resources by expanding ITNMontereyCounty’s individual transportation service model to offer a flat-rate service for anyone over the age of 60 who resides in rural areas south of Salinas toward Soledad.

After nearly a year of planning, ITNMontereyCounty launched its first ride on July 12. The member was picked up by a volunteer driver and driven to the monthly SOCOS Social in Soledad, presented by Meals on Wheels of the Salinas Valley at the Soledad Community Center, where a celebration followed.

Along with Alliance on Aging, its partner for community outreach and volunteer recruitment, ITNMontereyCounty has embarked on developing state-of-the-art technology that will be on the Salesforce platform, a longterm solution to improve rural transit needs for communities throughout the country.

The local organization agreed to be one of 10 test sites for ITNCountry, a national rural project connected to ITN America with funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) focused on transportation barriers in rural communities.

“We are so grateful to have a partnership with Alliance on Aging, who’s highly regarded in this community, focused on outreach and volunteer recruitment, which is vital to this project’s sustainability,” said ITNMontereyCounty in a statement. “If you know of someone who lives in this new project area and needs assistance getting to medical appointments or grocery shopping, please have them contact our office at 831-233-3447.”

According to ITNMontereyCounty, reliable transportation has proven to improve the health and safety of not only its members, but also all other drivers on the road. The rural project will focus on medical, grocery and pharmacy travel needs Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Riders can have a driver help with in-town grocery needs or stop by the pharmacy after a medical appointment for a flat rate of $8. Longer distance trips will range in cost from $10 (up to 15 miles) to $50 (over 35 miles) for a one-way ride.

In addition, low-income sponsorships are being offered with a $3 discount off each ride and ITNMontereyCounty will sponsor all membership fees during the FTA-funded rural project through July 2024.

For more information or to get involved, contact ITNMontereyCounty at 831-233-3447.

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Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.


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