Bringing Independence and Purpose – Steering the Ship

Community

“Do you have access to reliable transportation?”

This seemingly simple question, often asked on a job application or interview, can pose incredible obstacles to a person with a disability. Despite their ability to work and contribute, many individuals with disabilities do not have a driver’s license or access to a vehicle or reliable public transportation, making specific job opportunities inaccessible.

Creating this vital connection to employment, PRIDE Industries provides more than 21,000 rides per month and over 90 routes per day to individuals with disabilities working at PRIDE Industries or with businesses in the community. PRIDE Industries Transit has a fleet of 60 vehicles that cover 52 routes in Placer, Sacramento, Yuba, Nevada, and Sutter Counties in Northern California. PRIDE Industries’ Employment Services also helps individuals navigate public transportation.

Accessible vehicles are not only essential for providing transportation for people with a wide range of disabilities but also senior citizens and those with mobility restrictions. PRIDE’s Transit occasionally helps out in the local community, including for wildfire evacuations (read more here).

For more than 13 years, Dan Buchanan has worked as a Bus Driver for PRIDE Industries, transporting employees with disabilities and helping them access opportunities to jobs, paychecks, and independence. He shares his experiences below:

MEET DAN:

“As a Bus Driver, I’m like a captain of a ship. I have the sole responsibility to get employees safely to their destination, starting with the pickup in the morning at their homes and drop-off at work at the Roseville, CA, HQ, or other day programs. Then after a four-hour break, I start the second half of my shift, picking them up and getting them all back home.

When I first got my job at PRIDE, I had zero experience with people with developmental disabilities and felt a little overwhelmed at first. However, it didn’t take long to see how sincere, friendly, and honest the employees that I transport are. Everyone has their own personality traits that you get to learn as time goes on. Most importantly, my passengers love to have fun and tell jokes. My bus has been nicknamed “the party bus.”

As the “captain,” I am also charged with making sure everyone has a pleasant and safe ride, which can be challenging in such a small space with 16 people. To help, I created seating charts on some routes. If the passengers have a respectful attitude, they can sing and make as much noise as they want to!

The best moment of my day is dropping off employees and picking them up at the patio. You get to see so many friendly people that you have transported over the years, and it brightens your day. All of the passengers become very fond of their bus driver, as we spend 2 to 3 hours a day with them. I often receive cards, hand drawn pictures, or a craft item; you can tell that they have spent a lot of time on these objects, and it is very thoughtful.

I have seen how access to transportation makes a difference in people’s lives, as a job gives them meaning and self-respect. When you have been their driver for years, you get to see how employment helps them grow through life. One employee stands out, as I have driven her since the day she started working at PRIDE ten years ago. I have watched her grow into a confident and outgoing person, and I am very proud of her accomplishments and finding a career.”