WAVE public transit offers free rides to Chelsea vaccination site

The Western-Washtenaw Area Value Express (WAVE) public transit system has teamed up with the Washtenaw County Health Department to provide free transportation to the county's COVID-19 mass vaccination site in Chelsea. Run by the health department in partnership with the Chelsea Public School District, the site is located at Pierce Lake School and is a counterpart to the vaccination site at Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center in Ypsilanti. 

"In light of the vaccine now being more widely available, we're proud to provide this service not only to residents in western Washtenaw, but to anyone who lives or works in Washtenaw County," says Julia Roberts, executive director at WAVE. "It's especially important at this time when COVID-19 cases are on the rise."

Door-to-door shuttle service is available on Tuesdays from 8 a.m.-4:15 p.m. Anyone with an appointment at the Chelsea site can make a booking by phoning (734) 475-9494, visiting feonixride.aarp.org, or using the Feonix app.

"The goal is to help people take advantage of all the choices available to them," Roberts stresses. "We believe that no one should have transportation barriers in accessing the health care they want and need at this time."

Roberts applauds the health department's effort at the Ypsilanti mass vaccination site and says the new free shuttle service broadens access to every county resident. She says the initiative has the potential to be a game-changer for a number of people residing in the western part of the county who are public transit-dependent. 

"We had someone from Stockbidge who was getting vaccinated in Ann Arbor. We service Stockbridge with a shuttle, but normally the rider would have to take a shuttle to Chelsea, transfer to a fixed route, and then transfer to another fixed route or another door-to-door service," she says. "We were able to take them there easily and directly, even before this new fare-free service started."

She says that's important because it's been shown that if a person has to transfer more than once they are less likely to take a public transit trip. 

Those interested in booking transportation to the vaccination site are encouraged to do so at least 24 hours in advance. Same-day appointments are available on a first-come, first-served basis. All riders must wear masks and adhere to 6-foot social distancing requirements on WAVE vehicles.

"Along with the health department, we're doing everything we can to make sure that people are staying safe and getting to the health resources that they need," Roberts says. "With everything happening in the world, our residents have so much to worry about. We're committed to making sure that transportation during these times is not one them."

For more Concentrate coverage of our community's response to the COVID-19 crisis, click here.

Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at jaishreeedit@gmail.com.

Photo courtesy of WAVE.
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