Senior transportation to begin in Carmel Valley

By Karen Billing

Rides and Smiles senior transportation service will soon begin in Carmel Valley, District 1 City Council member Sherri Lightner reported to the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board last week. Without public transit and with no senior ride program servicing Carmel Valley, many seniors living outside a senior facility were left without a way to get around until Carmel Valley senior Julie Saltman “raised a rumpus” in February 2010.

Saltman has been the driving force in getting the senior ride program going and Lightner was instrumental in securing funding from SANDAG late last year.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Lightner. “Senior citizens in Carmel Valley need access to transportation. It’s not just a quality of life issue but a real necessity.”

The program is expected to begin next week and Lightner plans to give the inaugural ride to Saltman.

Operated by Jewish Family Services, Rides and Smiles provides more than 700 individual rides a month for seniors in the North County area. Volunteers can select the rides they give through an online system.

It’s a donation-based program so riders are sent donation suggestions at the end of the month based on the amount of trips taken. Drivers must complete a one-hour orientation, a DMV record check (paid for by JFS) and are provided mileage reimbursement up to 47 cents a mile.

If interested in volunteering or requesting a ride, visit

or call (858) 637-3000.