A new pilot voucher program for people with disabilities will soon begin in the Greater Bridgeport region. This new program is a result of a coordinated partnership between the Trumbull-based Kennedy Center and its Regional Mobility Management Project, the Greater Bridgeport Transit and Metro Taxi, Connecticut's largest full-service taxi company.

Beginning soon, qualifying passengers in Metro Taxi can travel beyond inter-town boundaries and have much broader service than paratransit. These taxis are demand-responsive, requiring no advance reservation and go beyond the .75-mile radius from an existing bus route, a requirement of the Greater Bridgeport Transit Access program, as long as the trip begins or ends within their service area.

The taxi voucher program offers rides in a Metro Taxi cab at a 50% discount for individuals with a qualifying disability under the ADA. Anyone who currently uses GBT Access is eligible to participate. The application process starts with an in-person assessment by a representative of Greater Bridgeport Transit. Once qualified, individuals will be eligible to buy a voucher, in the form of a debit card, at half the cost of a regular taxi ride. All trips must begin or end in Metro Taxi's service area, which includes Bridgeport, Stratford and Trumbull.

"The Kennedy Center is proud to launch the New Freedom Fund Taxi Voucher Program in the Greater Bridgeport area," added Martin D. Schwartz, President and CEO of The Kennedy Center. "This impressive pilot program fills a critical transportation gap in the federally-mandated ADA services and will benefit thousands of people with disabilities in our community."

In 2011, The Kennedy Center was awarded a federal grant under the New Freedom Program to fund a Regional Mobility Manager position and hired Margaret Mixon for the position.

"As the program progresses, the project team anticipates expanding the program to other towns in Southwestern Connecticut," said Mixon.

The Mobility Services Program of The Kennedy Center is headquartered in Trumbull and has satellite offices throughout the state. The agency is a national leader in helping people with disabilities and senior citizens access transportation.

"Travel Training," which The Kennedy Center has offered since 1991, teaches people with disabilities and seniors the skills necessary to safely and independently utilize regular bus and train services throughout Connecticut. Since its inception, The Kennedy Center has instructed over 3,500 individuals to access various forms of transportation for school, work, worship and leisure activities.

Visit the project website at knowhowtogoct.org or contact Margaret Mixon, Regional Mobility Manager at The Kennedy Center, at mmixon@kennedyctr.org or 203-365-8522 ext. 263.