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Oyster Bay Rotary Club to offer rides to disabled

A group of Rotarians in Oyster Bay has decided to pick up where Able-Ride left off.

After the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's cuts to Able-Ride service, meaning elimination last month of service for disabled Nassau County residents who live more than three-quarters of a mile from the nearest Long Island Bus route, members of the Oyster Bay Rotary Club say they're planning to start their own transportation service for area residents affected by the change.

The new bus service - dubbed Rotary Rides - will pick up people with disabilities who live in Oyster Bay, East Norwich and Bayville, and take them to and from their medical appointments, said Paul Rosen, a Rotarian and director of operations of Oyster Bay Manor and Harbor House Assisted Living.

Gail Speranza, executive director of the Doubleday Babcock Senior Center in Oyster Bay and a member of the Rotary Club, said she hopes the new service will be up and running as early as next week. The plan still is in its formative stages, she said, and the group is not yet ready to take on clients.

"We're just so thrilled to be able to at least pick up a little bit for Able-Ride for now," Speranza said. "It's giving people hope. And helping them get their independence back."

Paul Mori, senior manager of Hendrickson Bus Corporation in Bayville, said his company will use its specialized vehicles to pick up and drop off Rotary Rides clients Monday through Saturday, offering its services only for the cost of the drivers' pay.

"We're trying to figure out how to do it for even less," Mori said.

Organizers plan to ask for a $5 donation per round-trip from clients - $2.50 less than Able-Ride's round-trip fee.

The Rotary Club tentatively plans to offer transportation to medical centers and hospitals in Manhasset, Glen Cove, Plainview and Syosset.

The effort began with $5,000 in seed money from the Oyster Bay Rotary. The group plans to solicit corporations and other groups for additional funds.

"Bless them," said Legis. Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury), who has been working to restore the trimmed Able-Ride service. "When something disastrous like this happens, the cream rises to the top. And this is a good example of that happening."

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