This just in from reporter Bethania Palma:
DIAMOND BAR — The City Council last night chose to do away with proposed changes to the city’s dial-a-ride program and keep it as-is. The only change will be an expanded service area for medical facilities, from a 10-mile radius to a 20-mile radius.
Here’s Palma’s original story:
Ride changes protested
By Bethania Palma, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 08/01/2008 11:23:49 PM PDT
Tom Ortiz, from left, Al Rumpilla and Mike Graves stand with their signs to protest the proposed changes to the city’s dial-a-ride program in front of Diamond Bar City Hall on Friday August 1, 2008. A group of residents are unhappy with the proposed chamges to the Diamond Ride program. (Staff photo by Keith Durflinger) DIAMOND BAR – A group of seniors and disabled residents gathered outside City Hall on Friday afternoon to protest changes made to the city’s dial-a-ride program, which went into effect this week.
A handful of people protested with signs that read “Stop destroying our Diamond Ride,” complaining that services are being cut for people that need them most.
The city has changed the program so that riders have to pay regular cab fare for non-medical trips beyond the city boundary. Riders used to pay $2.50 for each mile traveled outside city limits, officials said.
“A month ago we had the best dial-a-ride program in California,” said Al Rumpilla, 64, who uses a wheelchair. “People are very upset that they can’t go to the same places anymore.”
City officials said the program is being altered to better serve those utilizing it for medical trips, and also cope with rising gas prices.
“Initially we had heard the majority of ridership was to doctors’ offices, so we shifted the radius from 10 miles to 20 miles for medical appointments and doctors’ visits,” said Diamond Bar Mayor Jack Tanaka. “We gave some on one end where we thought the majority of ridership was, and we reduced it on the other end.”
Officials added that Diamond Ride users can still take the same trips, but will have to pay regular Yellow Cab fare – $4.75 for the first mile and $2.50 each additional mile – for non-medical trips once they go beyond city limits.
But Kamar Quasin, 60, who cannot drive due to paralysis on one side of her body, said the changes will put a damper on her shopping trips. Her outings to Brea Mall used to cost her $6 each way, but that will increase.
She said she skipped out on her trip this week.
“In Diamond Bar, we don’t have any malls,” she said. “I’m thankful for this ride program but the changes aren’t good.”
City officials said some aspects of the program haven’t yet been finalized. The cap allowing 30 trips per month and special approval for long-distance trips will come up for further consideration at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Tanaka said the program will be reviewed in 6 months to see how the changes are working.
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