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The Ride Connection provides your ticket to ride

by: Contributed Photo, An American Red Cross volunteer driver smiles in front of an agency vehicle that she uses to transport people around the area.

Ride Connection has just the (free) ticket to getting people where they need to go.

Ride Connection, which is a non-profit organization and the state's largest provider of special-needs transportation, has a $6.5 million budget and provides rides to people in a 3,699-square-mile service area, including east Washington County.

In partnership with the American Red Cross, Ride Connection operates a local shuttle service Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and customers in the King City and Highlands areas can pick up the shuttle along its regular route.

'People know the route and wave the driver down to board, and on the way back, can be dropped off at their door,' said Terry Watson, Ride Connection lead services specialist.

Shuttle destinations include the King City Plaza, King City Town Hall (the library and pool), the Crown Center swimming pool, TriMet stops on both sides of Pacific Highway, Safeway and Albertson's and adjacent stores, plus the Legacy health clinic.

In addition, seniors who live in King City, the Highlands, Summerfield and the Royal Villa and Eldorado parks can receive door-to-door service by calling no later than 2:30 p.m. the day before.

'For trips outside the city, the Red Cross volunteer program is also based in King City,' said Watson. 'That office covers east county, and the Hillsboro office covers west county. If someone needed a ride in Beaverton, it was provided by the King City or Hillsboro office.

'Due to the increased need in Beaverton, we were able to get a grant to open a center in Beaverton. We leased an office in the Cedar Hills Church of Christ office and will have a half-time coordinator there plus two vehicles.'

As for King City, TriMet canceled service within the city and increased service along 99W about six years ago, according to Watson.

Ride Connection teamed up with the American Red Cross to provide the daily shuttle serve for the past six years, and rides total around 600 per month, Watson said.

'We can do more door-to-door service than we're doing,' he added. 'People just need to know about it and call ahead."

Only the areas of King City and the south park blocks in Portland have this unique service, according to Watson.

'People need to know it's there for them, even if they don't need it now,' he said. 'They may need it later.

'It's a niche business. It's really unique. It's limited to King City, Summerfield, the shopping areas, and the Royal Villa and Eldorado parks.'

The shuttle rides are free, but donations are gladly accepted. The suggested donation is $1.50 per trip.

Ride Connection needs volunteer drivers and escorts. People may either drive an agency vehicle or their own vehicle, and training and support are provided. For more information on volunteering, call Josh at 503-528-1738.

For more information on utilizing the shuttle service, visit www.rideconnection.org or call 503-226-0700.