New York State has the fifth largest veteran population in the country, and over 150,000 of those veterans live in rural areas with limited access to services and amenities like healthcare, groceries, and education. This often leaves older veterans or those who suffer from physical impairments without a reliable way to travel on their own to doctors’ appointments or to see family.
Greene County Transit (GCT), the county’s public transportation service operated by the Arc Mid-Hudson, is trying to change that. For the last three years, GCT has provided transportation free of charge to area veterans through a partnership with Sawyer Chevrolet of Catskill.
GCT’s Vets Ride for Free initiative began as a one-time service Sawyer Chevrolet sponsored in honor of Veterans’ Day in 2017. Soon after, the company committed to covering the cost of veterans’ fares full-time, and will now continue through the end of 2020. “It’s an honor to help the dedicated military men and women who have served,” says Larry Siracusano, president of Sawyer Chevrolet. “After giving so much of themselves, it’s the least I can do.”
To have the three dollar fare waived on any of GCT’s bus lines, veterans just have to show the driver a photo ID when boarding. In addition to the seven bus lines that service Greene County, veterans also have increased access to Columbia County via GCT’s extended 711 line, which makes stops at Columbia-Greene Community College, Columbia Memorial Health, and the Hudson Amtrak station.
According to Sandy Cozza, GCT’s Director of Transportation, participation in the program has increased month over month in the last year. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from our vets, as well as the rest of the community,” Cozza says. “I’m very grateful to Sawyer Chevrolet for getting involved in this program,” she adds. “And I really am truly honored to be a part of it, too.”
For more information on routes and schedules, visit greenecountytransit.com.