New van program available to all riders for trips on and off Vashon

The new Community Van program, announced last week, has already undergone a significant change: The vans are available to all island residents for off-island as well as on-island trips.

Previously, Community Transportation Coordinator Janet Welt said off-island trips would only be available for groups of people accompanying someone in a wheelchair. But King County officials partnering with the Vashon-Maury Island Chamber of Commerce to provide the van program recently determined that off-island trips will be allowed for all riders while the program becomes established.

So far, Welt said there are no limits, within reason, on where the vans can go and possible trips may include the airport, Costco and Ikea. If, for example, some island businesses owners wanted to secure the van for a Costco run together, that would be fine.

“It is up to the community how they want to use the van,” Welt said.

However, she added that the entire program is assessed every 90 days, and if there are problems — such as the vans not being available for food bank trips because they are taking people to Costco — that would be addressed.

The van was slated to take its first trip last weekend — from Vashon Community Care to a concert at the Vashon Island Community Church on Cemetery Road.

Last week, to help get the word out about the new transit program, Welt took the van downtown for the Halloween festivities. She gave away van-related swag and brochures — making at least three young trick-or -treaters mistakenly believe they had won a new van for their families.

While they were not quite so lucky, the vans hold many possibilities for islanders. Visit CommunityVan.com for more information and to organize or sign-up for trips.

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