The Ohio Department of Transportation is providing extra funding to help local transit agencies and health departments ensure all eligible state residents have transportation options to COVID-19 vaccination sites.
[Above photo by the Ohio DOT.]
The Rides for Community Immunity program is providing $7 million distributed across all 88 counties to help maintain transportation options to vaccination locations.
For the 70 counties that maintain public transit programs, the Ohio DOT will award the funds directly to those transit agencies.
The agency added that it will distribute funding based on the most recent U.S. Census data and will not require any type of local match.
“We want to make sure all Ohioans who want the vaccine have equal ability to get the vaccine,” explained Governor Mike DeWine (R) in a statement. “Equity includes having access to transportation services.”
“Transportation should not be a hurdle to any eligible Ohioan who wants to be vaccinated,” added Jack Marchbanks, Ohio DOT director.
“We’re doing everything we can to make sure that access is available to all Ohioans, not just those with a vehicle or that live near a vaccination site,” he said.
All public transit recipients will work with their local county health department and local emergency management agency to identify the best way to use these funds, the Ohio DOT added.
Local officials could leverage existing investments, such as offering vouchers for transit passes, or use these funds in conjunction with other transportation resources to help cover any additional cost that may be associated with keeping our communities healthy.
“Governor DeWine’s decision to provide additional funding targeted to support transportation to vaccination sites will help public transit agencies address the challenges of identifying and reaching those communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” noted Claudia Amrhein, general manager and CEO of Portage Area RTA and president of the Ohio Public Transportation Association.
“As public transit providers continue serving our communities through this pandemic, we are well positioned to coordinate with public health departments and county EMAs to facilitate access to vaccination sites,” she added.