The rest of this year, Via’s 35th anniversary year, I’ll be sharing my blog with guest writers – Via board members, employees, riders and community members – all of whom will write about their experience with Via. We also welcome your contributions. If you are interested in sharing your story for “Via Turns 35,” please contact Mary Cobb at 303.473.2882. We’d love to hear from you!
First, Via board member Stacy Cornay; Stacy is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising in Longmont.
Lenna Kottke, Executive Director
Marking new mileposts on the highway to the future
What were you driving 35 years ago?
A lot of us weren’t even driving, but I was looking forward to it as soon as I could get a license and a car. Beyond that, I wasn’t thinking about transportation issues. I never thought about the obstacles that would have to be overcome if I was ever unable to drive.
Now that thought is squarely in front of me. It is increasingly becoming reality for all of us. We all have family and friends who must depend on alternative means of transportation. For three and a half decades, Via has been making a positive difference in their lives. As a Via board member, my heart is warmed by the many amazing stories I hear of the lasting impacts Via is making in our community.
Now one of Boulder County’s most recognizable non-profits, Via had a modest beginning in 1979. Then known as Special Transit, its administrative functions initially were located in two rooms in the old County Butler building on Pearl Street in Boulder. Two years later the building’s roof blew off, forcing the handful of drivers and part-time office employees to relocate. The temporary quarters they found were less than ideal. The vehicle maintenance program was outside on a dirt driveway. The tire storage area was one small coat closet.
The cramped facilities didn’t curtail the dream of Via’s founders. They believed in community inclusive of everyone, regardless of age or disability. Their dream was to provide transportation services to help everyone reach their goals and live their dreams.
Via has undergone a name change and the inadequate facilities of the past have been left far behind. Today Via has more than 260 employees and more than 130 vehicles. We provide a wide range of transportation mobility options for Boulder County, including Longmont. Everyone quickly recognizes Via’s highly visible and colorful paratransit vehicles. They are only part of the big picture. When you see or call a Call-n-Ride bus or an Access-a-Ride vehicle, you’re also witnessing Via at work.
Transportation service contracts with RTD, the city of Longmont and other municipalities have accelerated. Via’s growth and expanded our capacity for serving people coping with mobility limitations. In 2013, the number of unduplicated Longmont clients served by Via reached the level of unduplicated clients served in Boulder for the very first time. Growth projections indicate Via’s transportation assistance in Longmont will continue to grow at a far faster rate than in any other community Via serves.
Via stands apart when it comes to providing mobility options in Boulder County. It is an invaluable resource for individuals dealing with mobility challenges and for their families. We are continually exploring innovative, creative new ways to help them all. We dream as Via’s founder’s dreamed – to be a community in which all people, regardless of age, income, disability or health condition have access to the mobility options they need to enhance their independence and quality of life.
Those driving Via buses and vehicles, working in the offices and serving on the board appreciate everyone who has supported our mission, shared our vision and encouraged us along the way. Mobility is another word for freedom. From the bottoms of our heart, we thank you for helping us provide freedom for our friends and neighbors.
We’ve come far since 1979. We still have far to go. Our first 35 years are mileposts along the path we have traveled. We’re focused now on marking new mileposts on Via’s highway to the future.
Thanks, Boulder County, and Happy Birthday to us all!