In response to needs for transportation to COVID-19 vaccine appointments, a coalition of Tompkins County transportation providers and planners, in collaboration with Tompkins County emergency management and health officials have worked with OurBus to provide regular, no-cost direct bus service to the state-run SUNY Binghamton Vaccination Site in Johnson City. Service will begin on Monday, March 8.
Fernando de Aragón, Ithaca-Tompkins County Transportation Council director stated, “For many people, there is nothing more important than getting the COVID vaccine. Unfortunately, issues in distribution, technology and transportation have become barriers. Many in Tompkins County have been able to make vaccination appointments at out of county locations and transportation can be a challenge.”
AVAILABLE SERVICE: Buses will depart every day, twice a day from 130 East Seneca Street in Downtown Ithaca, by the Starbucks and Hilton Garden Inn hotel. Buses will leave Ithaca Monday through Saturday, at 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., with return trips from the SUNY Binghamton vaccination site at 12:45 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. On Sundays, departures from Ithaca will be at 9 a.m. and 4:15 p.m., with returns at 2:15 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The trip takes about one hour each way. Through OurBus’ Door<To>Door service, customers have the option to book a shared cab ride to the bus stop in Ithaca, and back home. The cabs are guaranteed to connect to the bus. Pickups are available from any address within Tompkins County.
The SUNY Binghamton Vaccination Site is ready to accommodate bus travelers who need to wait for their return bus to Ithaca.
FLEXIBLE BOOKING: While bus tickets are only available online, there is no need to have a smartphone or print a ticket. Passengers can board by providing the name or reservation code on their ticket to the driver when boarding. No-cost tickets can be purchased by contacting ‘GetThere’, a mobility management program of the Rural Health Network of South Central New York, at 855-373-4040. GetThere staff will verify that the caller has a vaccination registration number, and handles booking the seat on OurBus, including determining whether the optional, additional “door-to-door” service (within Tompkins County) is being requested by the rider. GetThere will make the reservation including payment, and the rider will be provided what they need to board the bus.
If vaccination plans change, tickets can be cancelled or rescheduled without fees up to 30 minutes before departure, under the OurBus Assurance program. Persons that requires assistance, may contact OurBus Customer Service to schedule appropriate accommodations at least 48 hours in advance. You can reach OurBus on live chat on their website, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling the helpline at 1-844-800-6828.
All OurBus trips are on modern charter-style buses that have free WiFi, restrooms, reclining seats, charging ports, free water bottles, and technology that lets you track the bus via the OurBus App.
ENHANCED SAFETY: Buses and shared cabs are under strict social distancing policies. Occupancy is limited to 50% so that each traveler gets an empty seat next to them. Masks are required for the entire trip, hand sanitizer is available, and extra cleaning is being done.
“We’re proud to work with partners in Tompkins County to support Tompkins County residents with their transportation needs. By adding the vaccination site as an intermediate stop for buses that were already running on the regular Ithaca-Binghamton-New York route, we were able to provide access to critical vaccine appointments for Tompkins residents with little if any cost or environmental impact,” commented OurBus Co-Founder Axel Hellman.
OurBus was created in 2016 with the goal of making the feeling of traveling just as good as the feeling of arriving. OurBus has developed a network of intercity, charter and commuter bus services that connect almost 100 bus stop locations across the US. Schedules and tickets sales are available online at www.ourbus.com or the OurBus app. OurBus does not own or operate any buses, but handles scheduling, marketing, ticket sales, and customer service.