VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
Shuttle Service Gives Mobility to Disabled Vets
LOS ANGELES – “I am so happy to be of service to my fellow Veterans,” said Ernesto, a SMS Transportation employee and bus driver who shuttles disabled Veterans between VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System’s (VAGLAHS) Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center and VAGLAHS’ main hospital, which is located in West Los Angeles.
The service, a partnership between VAGLAHS, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), SMS Transportation, and ButterFli Technologies, an on-demand specialized transportation service, shuttles disabled Veterans without other means of transportation to and from their healthcare appointments at either facility.
“Mobility and transportation are not a privilege. They’re a right,” said Airron Roy, Vice President of Business Development and Marketing, ButterFli. “We seek to provide services that are geared toward the disabled and elderly Veteran community so that they can go about their day-to-day lives without worrying about how to get there.”
The American Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant bus used for the program can transport up to 26 Veterans and their caretakers, as well as accommodate three wheelchairs. It operates Monday through Friday between 7:45 a.m. and 4 p.m., making three round trips per day, and is open to any interested Veteran in need of the service. Between December 2019, when the shuttle service began operating, and July 2020 alone, the service shuttled over 1,000 Veterans and counting.
“We are thrilled with the success of this program so far, and only see it continuing to expand and grow as our Veterans continue to utilize this service available to them,” said Shawn Kallmeyer, Mobility Manager for VAGLAHS. Indeed, the service has been a huge success, agreed Ernesto: “The Vets thank and tell me what a blessing this service is for them, how they appreciate the help with their walkers and wheelchairs, or how they’re glad they don’t have to deal with the traffic.”
The service, which was conceived of by VAGLAHS and DAV, was intended to provide transportation solutions for disabled and elderly Veterans. Without the ability to accommodate Veterans in wheelchairs, DAV connected with ButterFli to provide a shuttle that could get them to and from their appointments.
“Historically, DAV hasn’t been able or allowed to transport ambulatory Veterans. The partnership with ButterFli enables the transportation of Veterans in wheelchairs, and this brings us great pleasure,” said Robert Graves, California Director of Operations, DAV. “The fact that we’re tracking double-digit ridership numbers despite the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and adding value in a time when we thought we might have to pull the program is such a statement about how needed and appreciated this service is. We want nothing more than to continue serving our Veterans.”
And according to the Veterans who utilize it, the service is critical. Paratrooper Veteran Francisco “Frank” Roiz catches the shuttle at least once a month to get to his many regular medical appointments at VAGLAHS. “I rely on this service,” Roiz said sincerely. “I love its convenience, and it’s wonderful for me at my age to not have to fight dangerous traffic to get the care I need.”
The program’s success has opened up discussion between VAGLAHS and ButterFli, DAV, and SMS Transportation to further expand the service to other VA clinic locations throughout the Greater Los Angeles catchment area.
The ButterFli bus begins its daily loop at 7:45 a.m. in front of the Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center. Please see below for additional pickup and drop off locations:
- Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center, 16111 Plummer Str., Sepulveda, CA
- West L.A. VA Medical Center, 11301 Wilshire Blvd, L.A., CA
- Wilshire Federal Building, 11000 Wilshire Blvd, L.A., CA
For more information about ButterFli, please call 1-855-267-2Fli (2354).