CLEVELAND, Ohio — Shannon Sapp spends her weekends as a driver for the transportation service Fare-Cle.
- The service provides transportation access to those with developmental, neurological, and cognitive challenges
- Riders can access the biographies of each driver and get to travel in the community on their own
- Fare-Cle hopes to expand past Northeast Ohio and be a model across the country
It's the organization's mission that prompted her to get behind the wheel.
“We’re usually jamming out to the greatest hits of the 70s 80s and 90s while riding and Carpool Karaoke…they make my day. We have so much fun, and I just leave them with such a feeling of warmth,” said Sapp.
Founder Debra Picker says Fare-Cle is focused on inclusion and independence.
The motto is “Find A Ride Easily.” Fare-Cle provides transportation access to those with developmental, neurological, and cognitive challenges.
“Our kids, they couldn't take Uber because they're a vulnerable population. So very simplistically, I thought, oh, I think I'll develop that. And that's what I did,” said Picker.
Picker worked in education for over 20 years and has two children with special needs.
“As they got older, I noticed both my children and my students didn't have opportunities to go out because they didn't have transportation,” said Picker.
The service, which started in 2017, hires drivers as independent contractors like they would for Uber or Lyft.
But the Fare-Cle experience is a bit more personal. Picker schedules each ride herself and makes sure every driver is vetted.
"We have a limited number of drivers…every single face and biography is on our website,” said Picker. "So, when our riders get a driver, they can see who their driver is going to be, and that driver is not going to just take them for that one trip, that driver may take them for many trips, depending on what their needs are.”
Sapp says there are a lot of people in the special needs community who do not hold driver’s licenses, but still have a desire to live a full and independent life.
“Social events and getting to work, and all sorts of other activities that they're able to do on their own, because of the driving service,” said Sapp.
One weekly passenger is Ben, who has used Fare-Cle for over a year. His mother Sharon, has two other adult children with special needs and says Fare-Cle has helped tremendously.
“They like to keep it active. And sometimes I would just have to say no because I couldn't be in two places at once. And sometimes I didn't do it, but that meant that my husband and I couldn't do what we wanted to do,” said Sharon Peerless, parent.
And knowing exactly who her children are riding with brings peace of mind.
“At Fare-Cle, I know that all the drivers have been screened very well. And many of them have had some experience working with people with special needs,” said Peerless. “It gives them their independence, they're not always relying on me. They have their own activities which they get to by themselves, and it's their own life and I don't always have to be involved in it.”
Fare-Cle hopes to expand past Northeast Ohio, and be a model across the country in order to meet the needs of more people.