Free Taxi Service?

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. December 2019

“Isn’t there a good movie today in the Panorama Auditorium?” I asked hubby Chris.

He opened our valued Panorama Newsletter to take a look at the Monthly Activities. “Oh, yes, it’s at 1:30 . . . The Imitation Game (2014) . . . ‘During World War II, mathematician Alan Turing tries to crack the enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians. Oscar winning, best screenplay.’”

“Sounds good. I’ll call Resident Transit for a ride.” I dialed 7725 on our house phone.

The afternoon resident transit dispatcher Kathy L. answered and asked, “Resident Transit, how may I help you?”

“This is Mary Jo Shaw. Do you have an opening for a 1:20 ride?”

“Oh, hi, Mary Jo, yes we do. Where would you like to go?”

“To the Panorama Auditorium . . . and for Chris, too. And I have a chair-walker.”

She asked our address, our phone number, and repeated the information I gave her.

“Would you like a ride back home later?”

“Yes, but I’m not sure what time the movie is over. I’ll call you when we’re ready.”

Two hours later, I could have dialed 7725 on the Auditorium lobby phone, but decided to call on my cell phone, making sure to include the area code and the complete phone number.

Again, dispatcher Kathy asked the same questions about when and where.

“Chris won’t need a ride. He’s going off campus.”

BUT what happened next?

I quickly said, “Kathy, wait! Maybe someone else would like to hop a ride too.” The lobby had a few residents visiting while taking jackets off the nearby rack.

I announced at a higher volume, “I have Resident Transit on the phone. Anyone else want a ride home? There’s room for two more.”

No takers, but resident Marcene O. quickly offered, “Oh, Mary Jo, I’d love to take you home. We can visit a few minutes on the way.”

“That would be fun . . . okay, thanks, Marcene.”

Dispatcher Kathy overheard our conversation. “That’s fine, Mary Jo. Have a good day.”

When Marcene and I arrived at her SUV, I stopped short. “Oh, Marcene, I forgot that I have this walker. It won’t fit inside your car.”

“Oh, yes, I’m sure it will.” Determined, she worked different positions . . . to no avail.

Marcene bent over, shaking her head with both hands, “Oh, Mary Jo, I am so very, very sorry. I’m so embarrassed.”

“Don’t worry, Marcene. I’ll simply call Transit back.”

She was still apologizing. I gave her a big hug. “It’s good as done, Marcene! Really, it’s no problem.” Disappointed, we still laughed at the situation. Dispatcher Kathy enjoyed the story.

Some residents with cars don’t realize the ease of Resident Transit every weekday from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m.

I picked Dave F’s brain for information. Volunteer residents use the two Toyota Sienna vans, using just one van on alternate weeks. Panorama provides insurance, maintenance, gas and wash coupons, using about ½ tank per week. Two members of the committee refuel, wash and vacuum every other week.

Twenty volunteers average about 4 ½ hours. Most work two shifts each month. Some drivers laugh, “The ‘pay’ is not very good, BUT the riders are friendly and grateful, and that means a lot. We work ‘overtime’ on PATIO Sale weekend, and during special events when needed.”

They serve all independent living residents, and will transfer canes, walkers, and even owners with dogs to have fun inside our fenced, great dog park. 

Interesting facts:

  • A single shift might vary from a low of one driver to a high of 16-18 people per shift.
  • They will transport to the three city bus stops that are on Panorama’s campus.
  • Collegiality of volunteers: no feeling guilty or worry about coverage if you have a problem. You can “pay back” later … works great and is much appreciated.
  • They use the VSP (Volunteer Scheduling Program App) that is now shared with other volunteer groups!
  • Ten-minute intervals are all that is needed to make trips to anywhere on our 140-acre campus.
  • Chris and I have not driven since we gave up our car in 2012!

Residents with cars are encouraged to use the rides to realize how simple and convenient the system is. We never know when we might not be able to drive.

Dispatchers and drivers may work through their home, or take the special phone and clipboard with the schedule for the day wherever they want on campus. They know to be prepared and ready to respond for duty.

When my sister was visiting, we used the service to the Auditorium. She opened her purse and whispered during the 4-minute drive, “How much tip do we give the driver?”

I chuckled and told him her inquiry.

“Wow, how nice! I can’t believe it.”

Why Resident Transit?

Dave answers, “Dispatchers and drivers are there to assist Panorama residents to our best ability so that they can remain mobile and independent for as long as possible.”

I always thank my driver, “This one of the best conveniences and necessities on our campus!”

Thank you Panorama and your faithful volunteers who provide this service for us. We are blessed!