Scott County: Introducing ‘Hop Scott’ from SmartLink
When the SmartLink Mobility Management team noticed in monthly ridership data that ride denials in Scott County were typically showing up for the same reason, the team became determined to eliminate them. The result? An innovative new transit service option called “Hop Scott,” which provides additional transportation options for older adults and people with disabilities in Scott County’s more rural communities.
A Live Well at Home grant through the Minnesota Department of Human Services funded community vans to transport seniors and disabled community members, helping them remain in their homes longer.
“Often, transportation is a barrier for older adults or those with disabilities who can no longer drive, aren’t comfortable driving, or who don’t have the ability to drive themselves,” says Scott County mobility management supervisor Alan Herrmann. “Accessing medical appointments, essential groceries and goods, social gatherings, and other appointments is needed for these individuals to stay active and engaged. Using volunteer drivers in these accessible minivans also makes the service more affordable and sustainable.”
The program also builds on their experience that volunteer drivers are more likely to volunteer their services when they don’t have to drive their own vehicle.
In anticipation of launching the program, the team began to recruit volunteer drivers using print ads, radio ads, and social media to create awareness of the program and call for volunteers. “The response to our appeal for ‘hometown heroes’ was enthusiastic with many inquiries and 11 individuals signing on to become volunteer drivers,” Herrmann says. “With the addition of Hop Scott and the concept of using volunteer drivers based in these smaller towns in Scott County, we hope to add to a meaningful quality of life that results in building and maintaining independence for many individuals where transportation had previously been a challenge.”