Come and Join Our Team!
Volunteers with vehicles in good working condition are needed to help transport people to medical appointments and other destinations. As a volunteer driver, you will use your own vehicle to transport passengers of your choosing in Sibley County, McLeod County, Wright County, and anywhere else in the State of Minnesota. Although volunteers are not employees, you will be reimbursed 53.5 cents for every mile you drive for the transit system.
Other benefits include:
- Satisfaction of giving back to the community and helping people in need.
- Meet new people and spend time with people who need you.
- Flexible times! Drive only when you want, where you want, and the customers you want!
- Become part of a reputable organization dedicated to a worthy cause.
- Meal reimbursements up to $10.00 at nearly any restaurant for longer trips.
- Volunteer driver training and recognition banquets.
Please call today to register. Your talents are greatly needed!
Office hours – Weekdays 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Enjoyable Activity for Recent Retirees!
General Operating Policies – Volunteer Driver Program
Scheduling and Cancellations
All volunteer driver rides must be scheduled with a dispatcher. Furthermore, all destinations must be scheduled and approved by a dispatcher in advance of the ride taking place. Requests by a customer to add or change destinations during the ride must also be approved by a dispatcher.
Volunteer driver rides may be scheduled up to one month in advance. Requests for volunteer driver service more than one month in advance will not be accepted. Customers may request rides at any time during the one-month scheduling window, but a minimum notice of one week is strongly recommended.
Volunteer driver rides must be cancelled with a dispatcher before 4:00 p.m. on the last business day before the day the ride is scheduled to take place. Late cancellations will result in the customer being charged with a no-show.
All rides must be scheduled, coordinated, and assigned through the dispatch center. Furthermore, the personal contact information for the customers and the volunteer drivers is confidential. As such, volunteer drivers should not be contacting customers, and customers should not be contacting volunteer drivers. In cases of extraordinary circumstances where a customer and a volunteer driver need to communicate directly, a dispatcher may release private contact information only after explicit approval to do so is provided by both the volunteer driver and the customer.
A customer will be considered a no-show for the volunteer driver program under the following circumstances:
- When a volunteer driver attempts to transport a customer that does not utilize the appointment he/she made to use the volunteer driver service.
- When the customer does not properly cancel his/her volunteer driver ride according to policy.
A customer shall receive a written warning for violating the volunteer driver no-show policy once in any twelve-month period. However, a customer with two volunteer driver no-shows in any twelve-month period shall be suspended from volunteer driver services for a period of one month. Customers may file an appeal with a manager to have a suspension lifted or reduced.
Customers who violate the no-show policy will also be charged for all direct mileage costs incurred by the volunteer driver. Paying for a no-show does not erase the record of the no-show, nor does it allow the suspension to be lifted.
Individuals who are suspended from the volunteer driver program are still eligible to use the bus system, but the customers who are suspended from the bus system may not use the volunteer driver program.
Volunteer drivers may provide assistance to customers to most locations for the purpose of providing support and stability. Volunteers may enter public buildings but are restricted from crossing the threshold of the outermost entryway of private homes and living areas of individual rooms in apartment buildings and nursing homes. In communal living and care facilities, lobbies and waiting areas are the best place to greet volunteer drivers.
For an ambulatory passenger, a volunteer driver may assist by extending an arm for the passenger to hold onto or by grasping the arm of the passenger. An individual who needs additional assistance, such as someone who is extremely weak or frail, may be required to use a wheelchair and may not be able to use the volunteer driver program. In this case, the customer will be referred to an alternative transportation service such as a Special Transportation Services (STS) provider.
In some instances, a customer with a wheelchair may be able to transfer into the seat of the volunteer driver’s vehicle. Such an arrangement is subject to the availability of a caretaker when the customer is picked up and dropped off to assist with the transfer. Volunteer drivers are not permitted to assist with the transfer of a customer between a wheelchair and the vehicle.
Customers should be prepared to ask for assistance either verbally or by waving their arms at the volunteer drivers. Volunteers may automatically attempt to provide assistance if they have reason to believe a customer will have difficulty moving to or from the vehicle. Volunteer drivers may not assist customers without first asking and receiving permission to do so, except in cases of emergency.
Volunteer drivers are not responsible for clearing pathways. A volunteer may not be able to assist or transport the customer if the pathway to and from the vehicle is not clear or safe for passage.
Trailblazer or the volunteer driver is not responsible for any injuries sustained by someone moving to or from the vehicle, whether or not a volunteer driver assisted the individual. Please remember that it is the passenger’s responsibility to get to and from the volunteer driver’s vehicle. Volunteer drivers provide limited passenger assistance only as a last resort for individuals who have no one else to help them.
Health Status and Medical Emergencies
A passenger’s physical condition must be such that transportation will not adversely affect the health or well-being of the passenger. Individuals exhibiting signs of excessive pain or suffering being caused by travel will be immediately returned to their pick-up location or dropped off at the nearest care facility.
Trailblazer does not provide transportation for medical emergencies. In the event a customer has a severe injury or illness (i.e. bleeding, vomiting), a Trailblazer team member will contact the appropriate emergency response personnel and/or instruct the customer to do the same.
Caretakers and Assistants
In the event a customer is capable of riding with the volunteer driver alone but cannot make responsible decisions regarding his/her care, a caretaker is required when the customer is picked up and dropped off. If a customer is not responsible enough to ride alone, a caretaker is required at all times.
In the event a passenger is non-responsive or unable to communicate in any manner, he or she will be required to have an assistant ride along to observe and care for the individual.
All rides for the volunteer driver program will be billed. Volunteers are prohibited from accepting any money and do not know what the total cost of the ride will be. Volunteer drivers will submit a mileage report to the dispatchers who will then create the bill to send out to consumers.
Customers should be ready to go at least ten minutes prior to the scheduled pickup time. Please be prepared to find the volunteer driver rather than making the volunteer find you. Dispatchers are able to provide customers with a description of the volunteer’s vehicle and license plate number. For additional identification purposes, volunteer drivers are issued photo badges that customers may request to see.
Volunteer drivers should not be stopping to conduct personal business while a customer is in the vehicle. However, volunteers are permitted and encouraged to do things for themselves during the time a volunteer driver is waiting for a customer, provided that such activity does not interfere with a scheduled pickup time. Volunteer drivers are also encouraged to take short rest breaks if they are fatigued during long trips. In addition, volunteers are also permitted to stop and eat when it is necessary to do so.
If a volunteer driver needs to wait for a customer, the volunteer may leave and return later to pick up the customer. The volunteer driver and customer may make such arrangements in advance through dispatch or by themselves during the outbound portion of the ride.
If a volunteer driver stops somewhere to eat, the customer is expected to have enough money to purchase his/her own food. Volunteer drivers are not reimbursed for any food that they purchase for the customer. Customers are not permitted to consume food or drink inside the volunteer’s vehicle without permission from the volunteer driver to do so. Volunteer drivers are not permitted to eat while operating the vehicle.
Volunteer drivers may provide transportation to multiple customers that may have different destinations. This is called a coordinated ride, and it is the goal of rural transportation systems to provide such rides. Therefore, customers must be patient and willing to share volunteer drivers. Furthermore, volunteer driver fares are divided by the total number of people that ride together, so there is a financial incentive for customers to coordinate rides.
Smoking and the use of other tobacco products are not permitted inside the volunteer driver vehicle without permission from the volunteer driver to do so.
Animals are permitted to ride along with a volunteer driver provided the volunteer driver agrees to transport animals. Some volunteer drivers will allow animals in their vehicles while others will not.
Passengers are required to adhere to state and federal laws regarding the use of seat belts, car seats, and booster seats. If car or booster seats are required, customers should provide their own seats and be prepared to strap them into the volunteer driver’s vehicle.
Volunteer drivers are not permitted to accept tips. In fact, the practice of volunteers accepting tips violates federal regulations and may put the transit program at risk of losing funding. Rather, we strongly encourage customers to simply thank the volunteer for his/her time.
The practice of customers arranging rides and making payments for transportation services directly with registered volunteer drivers outside the scope of the transit system is prohibited. Trailblazer invests a great deal of time and money to screen and certify volunteer drivers and their vehicles, so the volunteers are a resource that must be protected and reserved for the transit system. However, volunteer drivers are welcome to drive for other non-profit organizations.
The volunteer driver program is a comprehensive, highly coordinated transportation initiative that is funded by multiple sources. Due to certain limitations with one of our funding sources, the transit system needs to account for certain rides differently. Therefore, the volunteer driver program consists of two different services referred to as 1) the Trailblazer Transit volunteer driver program and 2) the SMART volunteer driver program.
The Trailblazer Transit designation refers to all rides provided within the 5311 service plan overseen by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. SMART is an acronym for Sibley McLeod Auxiliary Regional Transit and refers to all the transportation provided that does not meet the criteria of the 5311 service plan administered by MnDOT. The fare structure is the only difference between the two programs from a customer’s standpoint. Please refer to the fare structure handout or contact the dispatch center for additional information.