Sudbury·Audio

Cab companies, organizations stepping up with free rides to COVID-19 vaccine appointments

Several initiatives are underway across the northeast to make sure transportation is not a barrier to getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Organizations and companies have stepped up to help provide free rides to appointments for those who don't have access to transportation.

"We want to say 'Thank you' for getting your vaccine & trying to get...the economy in Sudbury back on track"

Sharon Flinn is co-owner of Lockerby Taxi in Greater Sudbury. Over the past month the cab company has provided 362 rides for individuals needing transportation to their COVID-19 vaccine appointments

Several initiatives are underway across the northeast to make sure transportation is not a barrier to getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Organizations and companies have stepped up to help provide free rides to appointments to those who don't have access to transportation.

Over the past month Lockerby Taxi in Greater Sudbury provided more than 360 rides to the mass vaccination clinics — for free.

Sharon Flinn, co-owner, says that works out to be roughly $9,500 in fares. That's a lot of money for a company that's had to lay off half its staff due to the pandemic. 

But she is adamant they wanted to give back to the community. 

"People were overwhelmed by the fact they were getting a free ride."

"Yes, it's free. We want to say 'thank you' for getting your vaccine and trying to get the community and the economy in Sudbury back on track," she said.  

Flinn hopes that providing the opportunity to seniors over the age of 70 it helped to alleviate their fears of returning to normal activities.

"You're stimulating the economy, and then it'll just be a ripple effect after that," she said.

The free rides were offered by Lockerby Taxi between March 17 and April 17, but Flinn says because the eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine has increased they have scaled back.

"It's a financial burden right now, so this is why we've had to scale back," she also added that the latest cohorts eligible for the shots are also more mobile and have transportation options.

North Bay's Project GoVax

Project GoVax launched last week through the North Bay Chamber of Commerce, with partners Sun Life and U-Need-a-Cab.

Peter Chirico, chamber president and CEO, says Sun Life has provided $10,000 and U-Need-a Cab will provide the rides for those needing to go get their COVID-19 shot. 

Peter Chirico is the president and CEO of the North Bay Chamber of Commerce. (Francis Beaudry/CBC)

"We think that this is going to be a great assistance for our city," he said.

"Until vaccinations become the majority, that is when we are going to be able to open up business and get people back to whatever that normal use to be and get businesses open."

Rides are also available from Callander and Powassan.

"If there is a need we will try to get them there," Chirico said.

Sault Ste. Marie

Similar transportation services are available from PUC Services for those needing help in Sault Ste. Marie.

"We did not want transportation to be the reason why someone chooses not to get a vaccine," said Jarius Patterson, communications coordinator for PUC Services.

PUC Services began offering free transportation to those in need on April 12, regardless of whether the vaccine appointment is booked at a mass clinic or a pharmacy.

"It's just to help ease the burden because we do know this is a very stressful time right now, and we do know there are people out there who are struggling to get to this appointment," Patterson said.

PUC Services acts as the liaison between those needing transportation to get to their COVID-19 vaccine appointment and the taxi company providing the service.

"We will pay for it as well," Patterson said.

"It's something you don't have to worry about, at all."

"If we want to get out of this pandemic one of the big ways of doing that is obviously everyone receives a vaccine shot," he said.

The organizations and businesses offering the free rides simply ask that the person makes their vaccine appointment first before calling to set up transportation.

Going to get your COVID-19 vaccine doesn't look difficult, but if you don't have transportation, that could be a barrier to getting the immunization. In Sudbury, a taxi company has stepped in to help. To find out more, the CBC's Angela Gemmill spoke with Sharon Flinn, the co-owner of Lockerby Taxi. 6:37

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Angela Gemmill

Journalist

Angela Gemmill is a CBC journalist who has covered news in Sudbury, Ont., for 15 years. Connect with her on Twitter @AngelaGemmill. Send story ideas to angela.gemmill@cbc.ca

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