About Citrus Connection
Citrus Connection launched its $1.5 million Regional Mobility Call Center to better provide transportation and mobility options for local veterans, elderly and disabled residents of Polk County. The call center was made possible through a Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative grant.
This has been a long process, but it still puts Citrus Connection as one of the first agencies in the United States to implement this federally funded program to better service the people who have served us so well.
This project consolidated the three public transit agencies into Citrus Connection’s one call/one click center providing a seamless system of customer service to our veteran’s population and all Polk County residents. Customers can call (855) POLK BUS (765-5287).
The combining of resources between these three agencies will produce a reduction in cost and increase funds to be utilized for direct services.
This project has one physical location for the different agencies to coexist and will accommodate the needs of a new call center.
A single phone number for both demand response and fixed routes has been implemented and the staff members have access to a single data base system for booking trips, bus schedules, next bus and bus stop locations, and application and eligibility information.
The new automated phone system is in place providing the public next bus and scheduling information, faring, special bulletins, and policy information on the telephone without speaking with a customer service representative.
Jim Erickson Universal Access Program, Citrus Connection
Polk County’s nearly 62,000 veterans now have transportation options and independence through the Jim Erickson Universal Access Program. The program, named after veteran transportation advocate Jim Erickson, allows veterans with a military identification card to ride all fixed route buses in the county at no cost to the veteran.
The program, subsidized through $12,000 from the Polk County Board of County Commissioners, helps veterans who previously may not have been able to go to the grocery store or perform basic tasks. The year-long pilot project allows all Polk County veterans to ride any segment of the Citrus Connection bus routes for free.
Polk’s aging veteran population includes thousands of people who served their country and now have little money or ability for transportation. The program offers this proud group transportation independence and improved quality of life that they otherwise did not have before.
The program gives veterans who don’t have a car, especially older veterans on a limited income, the ability to get to the grocery store, to doctors’ offices, and have more mobility to get around than they otherwise would have.
Citrus Connection provides access to the Lakeland Veteran’s Affairs Clinic, Lakeland Regional Medical Center, Watson Clinic, Bartow Regional Medical Center, Winter Haven Hospital and a variety of other medical facilities.
Shopping and social destinations include most Publix Super Markets, Eagle Ridge Mall, Lakeside Village, VFW and American Legion posts, Legoland and many local vendors.
In this day and age, transportation is basic for getting around just for everyday things. Things many take for granted, like going to a restaurant, making it to the laundry mat and getting groceries, become complicated.