Butler County veterans get second option for travel

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Executive director talks about new transportation contract.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Having 2 transportation companies should reduce wait times, missed medical appointments.

Butler County’s estimated 26,000 veterans should have an easier time getting to medical appointments now that they will be served by two transportation companies.

The Veterans Service Commission approved two new transportation contracts totaling nearly $1 million, saying that should result in fewer missed or postponed appointments, which can lead to better health outcomes.

The commission added a three-year contract with Butler County Regional Transit Authority after receiving complaints about current provider, Universal Transportation Systems.

MORE: Veterans board budgets more for transportation

“The hours and hours waiting at the VA has gotten better,” said Caroline Bier, executive director of the Butler County Veterans Commission. “But there’s other issues — not picking people up on time from their home then getting to appointments late. We still have probably at least one complaint a day, if not more.”

At three years into the contract with UTS, that’s too many complaints, Bier said.

Now, for $650,000, UTS will handle transportation to the Cincinnati VA Medical Center and other areas in the southern part of their service area. The BCRTA, for $600,000, will transport veterans locally and to the Dayton VA Medical Center.

Both contracts are for three years.

“We are looking forward to this improving our services to our vets,” Veterans Board President Chuck Weber said. “And everyone has been schooled on what our expectations are, so that’s good.”

RELATED: Bus company has rocky start with Butler County veterans

In 2014, just one month into a new contract with Universal Transportation Systems, the Butler County Veterans Service Commission was deluged with complaints from veterans who have had numerous problems with the service.

Bier said the board still receives complaints, but most problems associated with the bus service have been fixed.

UTS has other clients, including Butler County’s Department of Job and Family Services. By adding a second transportation option, Bier hopes veterans will be better served.

“I just think maybe taking away the local travel from (UTS) and taking off the Dayton travel, will enable UTS to do a great job with getting them down to the Cincinnati appointments,” Bier said.

Carolyn Burer, UTS president, said the company takes all complaints seriously.

“The amount of complaints that we get in a given day is pretty small to be honest,” she said. “But we do address those aggressively. We don’t want anybody not to feel served well.”

“We’re just happy to be serving the veterans again,” she said.

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BY THE NUMBERS

5,065: Number of round-trips Butler County veterans took with Universal Transportation Systems in 2016

$650,000: Amount of new, three-year contract with Universal Transportation Systems

$600,000: Amount of new, three-year contract with Butler County Regional Transit Authority

26,000: Estimated number of veterans in Butler County

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