A community-run medical transportation program in Bedford County covered more than 42,000 miles in 2002.

"Bedford Ride," established in 2001 by the Bedford Community Health Foundation with the support of Aaron Schroeder and Michelle Stebner of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), provided 2,172 rides to 269 clients last year.

"We could not have achieved this successful implementation of "Bedford Ride" without the support and guidance of VTTI," said Roger Henderson, the foundation's executive director.

The program, which is run by 151 local volunteers, provides non-emergency medical transportation for elderly, disabled, and low-income residents whose medical care is limited because of the lack of public transportation.

"Bedford Ride" is based on Montgomery County's "Access to Rides," a similar transportation system established in 1998 by Schroeder and Stephanie Herbert of VTTI in partnership with other organizations. In addition to providing financial, administrative, and technical support for "Access to Rides," VTTI produced software technology that enabled dispatchers to match passengers and volunteer drivers through an internet database. This original framework led to the development of "Bedford Ride."

The commitment of the local community has raised more than $350,000 in support of "Bedford Ride," and the number of rides provided by the program is expected to grow by 50 percent -- to more than 3,000 -- in 2003.

For more information on "Bedford Ride" or "Access to Rides" contact Schroeder at (540)231-1544 or aaron@vtti.vt.edu.

Written by Ennis McCrery