Transit for Disabled, Low Income

By Anna Yee

November 16, 2011 Updated Nov 17, 2011 at 11:35 AM CDT

WASHINGTON, Ill. -- Every breath counts for Wendell Walch.

The 54-year-old Washington resident is on a waiting list for a double lung transplant. As a requirement, he has to attend at least three therapy sessions a week in Peoria.
 
The problem is Walch doesn't own a car.
 
"There's been a couple (appointments) that I haven't gotten to," said Walch.
 
He's also on a fixed income and relies on friends for transportation. He says his appointments are not an option.
 
"If I can't make the classes here then I can't finish the program which sets my time table back even further,” said Walch, “and I personally don't think I've got a lot of time left to do this."
 
Walch says he's considering moving back to Peoria, where he's familiar with the public transportation, like CityLink buses.
 
“You can imagine someone dragging an oxygen tank, and it's 30 degrees in the winter catching the bus,” continued Walch. “It wasn't easy."
 
CityLink provides a para-transit service for those who can't take the fixed bus routes due to a disability. The application process could take up to 21 days, but for riders who qualify, they'll only have to pay a $4 fee for each trip.
 
That's $4 round trip, $2 each way, but transportation is limited to Peoria and some outlying areas.
 
For eligibility and requirements, click here.
 
To download an application, click here 
 
Rides must be scheduled in advance.
 
Peoria Citizens Committee for Economic Opportunity (PCCEO) also provides free CityLink bus passes to those who qualify.
 
PCCEO is located at 711 W. McBean St. in Peoria and can be reached at (309) 671-3900.
 
Another option is First Transit, a non-emergency transportation service for those with Medicaid.
 
For more information, visit the website or call toll-free 1-877-725-0569.
 
 
These buses travel to Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports multiple times a day.
 
The President and owner of the family-owned business, Bill Winkler, says he'll waive the $74 round trip fee in extreme cases, with 48 hours advance notice.
 
"It has to be need,” said Winkler, “but also there might be something in their life that they have to get to Chicago for health reasons, so health and needy."
 
That could be a breath of fresh air for Walch.
 
His transplant doctor is in Chicago.
 
These are only some of his options, which for now, give him a reason to breathe a little easier.

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