For the past few years, GetGo, a ride service run by the non-profit Gulfport Multipurpose Senior Center Foundation, transported folks around town free of charge.
That service ended abruptly on May 30, leaving some locals without wheels.
“We did not do this lightly; Gulfport needs GetGo,” said Bob Newcomb, who serves on the board of the foundation. “We are hoping some other group takes it over.”
While the 11 GetGo drivers were strictly volunteer, the free ride service racked up costs in other ways.
In Newcomb’s words, each of GetGo’s three six-passenger vehicles were costing the non-profit $700 a month in mobility insurance. The $2,100 in insurance fees, combined with repairs and gas was too much for the small program, which was designed largely as a way for seniors to travel around town, but was open to anyone with a destination within Gulfport. The service also aimed to help alleviate parking issues in Gulfport’s waterfront district.
According to the foundation website, initial funding for the GetGo vehicles was via tax deductible donations and a matching grant from the foundation.
Gulfport, which can be contained in roughly three-square miles, has its fair share of historic brick streets, which also accelerated deterioration of the vehicles. One cart ran for over 50,000 miles, which far exceeds the amount of wear and tear a golf cart should be getting, said Newcomb.
“And we know that because it’s the only cart with an odometer,” Newcomb said. “Who knows about the other two?”
The non-profit got its funds solely from sponsors and donations, a system that just couldn’t hold up to pricey insurance.
“All we wanted to do is provide service for seniors,” Newcomb said. “Since we can no longer do that, it has to end.”
While there has been unconfirmed talk of the program being carried on through another group, nothing is determined at the moment.
“The board really loved the program,” Newcomb said. “I just hope it’s able to be continued.”
For now, seniors and other residents without transportation will have to find other options.
“These are people that cannot go to the doctor’s office without this program, they can’t go get groceries themselves,” Newcomb said.