Vernon’s Jeff McSweeney has launched a new wheelchair shuttle service to help North Okanagan residents get to and from medical appointments from outlying areas. (Photo submitted)

Vernon man rolls out wheelchair shuttle business

North Okanagan Wheelchair Shuttle to help people in rural areas get to and from appointments

While driving a bus for a Vernon retirement residence, an idea struck Jeff McSweeney.

As he took seniors shopping or to doctors’ offices, the professional driver with a Class 1 licence saw a need for getting people in rural areas to and from their appointments.

With that, McSweeney is launching North Okanagan Wheelchair Shuttle, a B.C. government-approved business to transport people to and from medical appointments.

It’s a personalized service that will pick occupants up at their respective residences, drop them at their appointment, then pick them up and return them home, comfortably and safely.

“Our business plan focuses on looking at the outlying areas because of a lack of transportation,” McSweeney said. “Places where there’s no HandiDart or no taxi service to Lumby or Enderby.

“I’ll go to Cherryville, Falkland, Enderby, Mabel Lake, anywhere that seniors and people need to get into town. I’m approved for the Regional District of North Okanagan.”

McSweeney has been approved by the provincial government for two vehicles – a 2015 Dodge Caravan wheelchair accessible van and another three-to-five passenger vehicle.

He’s been in touch about his business with healthcare providers in the North Okanagan and he’s talked to transportation co-ordinators for seniors programs to get his name out there.

READ MORE: B.C. launches talks with taxi industry about fees to aid disability services

“You can find me through doctors’ offices, pharmacies, I’ll have a Twitter account and I have a couple of social worker contacts at Interior health that have my information,” McSweeney said.

North Okanagan Wheelchair Shuttle will charge customers a flat rate, such as Vernon to Kelowna General Hospital, or Enderby to Vernon. Rates, he said, have been approved by the Passenger Transportation Board.

McSweeney is not planning on setting specific hours as he gets the business up and running.

“If we can get six-to-eight rides in a day, that would be ideal,” McSweeney said.

The shuttle will operate every day except Sunday, though if someone needs to be at the Kelowna Airport to fly out first thing Monday morning and plan to stay in Kelowna Sunday night, his company can accommodate that.

McSweeney’s vehicles will be commercially inspected every six months, and he said he will not run any vehicle more than 10 years olds.

“Once the van is booked up, I’ll look at hiring another driver and get another vehicle with wheelchair accessibility, and wheel people anywhere they need to go,” he said.

For more information or to book an appointment, you can phone or text McSweeney at 250-540-6746, or email info@nowshuttle.ca.



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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