Great Barrington will establish its own town-operated senior transportation service on or about Oct. 1, to replace the Southern Berkshire Elderly Transportation Corp. (SBETC) program that provided rides for residents in South County for over three decades.

“SBETC has decided to cease operating on Sept. 30, but we’re preparing to step in for seniors and disabled residents who have relied on this service for many years,” said Town Manager Mark Pruhenski. “We can assure our residents that we will be ready to provide reliable rides that are affordable, safe and flexible. We’re actually pretty excited about this opportunity to not only match SBETC’s offerings, but eventually expand these services in the coming months.”

At first, the new service will be limited to elderly and disabled passengers from Great Barrington, including Housatonic, who need rides to and from medical appointments, grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential trips. Pruhenski said the program may expand at some point to serve residents of neighboring towns, but for now the priority is serving Great Barrington passengers.

The town is actively at work acquiring vehicles and staffing will include part-time employees. The town is also exploring the use of volunteer drivers through the town’s Senior Tax Work-off Program, but this option is still being explored.

Pruhenski said funds for the program will be shifted from the SBETC contract to the new town service—the current contract with SBETC was for $60,900. He said the town also has additional donation funds that could help support the program if needed.

Further details on the new program will be forthcoming this month.

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