YATES TWP. — For Yates Dail-A-Ride, Christmas just came early. Vedra Gant-Paige, director of the Yates Dial-A-Ride Public Transit, a new state-of-the-art mobility van is just what was needed to serve transportation needs of Lake County residents who are physically disabled. 

Yates Dial-A-Ride put in a bid with a third party for the new style Ford 350 HD Transit Wagon, but the state is in the process of looking into putting these vehicles on a state contract. If the state contract goes through, Yates-Dial-A-Ride hopes over time to secure two more new mobility vans to replace two vans they already have, Gant-Paige said.

“This new mobility van gives us an opportunity to have more convenience to pick up seniors, seniors with disabilities and all people with disabilities in our county,” she said. “It gives us confidence to meet these clients’ needs. This will be an on-demand service, first-come, first-serve. For disability calls, we will get to those right away.” 

Gant-Paige said opportunities such as getting the new mobility van don’t just fall in their lap, but result from a lot of communication and work. 

“In our little area we don’t get left out, because we make sure to have attendance in Lansing and communicate with Michigan Department of Transportation so we can have access to state-of-the-art items. If you’re not present, you don’t always get considered.”

She said the van will be able to maneuver on the many dirt roads in Lake County, but in the winter, driveways should be cleared and shoveled so vans can get as close to houses as possible to pick up passengers. 

“We are using the van now, but we are working on equipping it with an audio visual system and monitoring system to track transit pick-ups and map out calls. We hope to someday have WiFi in the van,” Gant-Paige said. “Everyone really is enjoying the van. We are proud of it and look forward to better accommodate the needs in Lake County.”

The van comes with a lift in the back, and the two back seats fold down to make room for the lifting process. It has a large capacity with plenty of seating. The van also comes with an emergency hatch and other safety equipment.