For senior citizens in Ticonderoga, New York, the senior bus isn’t just a necessary mode of transportation. It’s a way of life.
“We come here, we meet each other, we laugh, we eat and we have a good time,” says bus rider Enid Bousfield, who is approaching 100 years old.
‘The senior bus is the best thing that happened to Ticonderoga,” says long-time rider, Earl Frederick Barber. “You have a lot of people in Ti who are too old to drive, or can’t afford to drive.”
The seniors are now riding in style in their new bus, which just arrived the second week of May.
“I’m just thankful that we got it before the old one quit on us,” Barber said.
In fact, Local 22/Local 44 News received an email about that very issue. A viewer and Ti Area Seniors bus rider said town officials kept pushing back the deadline for a new bus to arrive. Their previous one is now seven years old, and suffered two broken windows and a failed AC unit this year.
“It had about 120,000 miles on it and losing about a quart of oil per week,” says senior bus driver, Bob Diedrick. “I felt very unsafe with the windows gone because we only had cardboard there and we only had it taped up with duct tape…In fact, I went to our town supervisor and said I can’t drive this bus anymore.”
Town Supervisor Joe Giordano admits the process to get a new bus became much more cumbersome than he anticipated.
“It took a little bit of time to learn how were supposed to go out to bid for this particular vehicle, so we finally got that submitted in September and it got finalized in October,” says Giordano. “It also turned out to be a stellar year for bus sales in terms of the busing industry, so the typical bill time was four months, but it got pushed out to about six months due to the fact that they had gotten such an influx.”
In the meantime, the seniors had to rely on their old bus, at least for part of the winter.
“Things were going on it, I mean age and parts were going and we really needed the new bus,” says Earl Barber.
“There were some concerns that it wasn’t safe and we finally got a rental car to carry them around until this bus finally came in,” Giordano adds. “It’s not the town’s position to be careless, or jeopardize safety in any way.”
The new bus cost just under $52,000. The money had been saved up in a Capital Reserve fund.
“They have a safe bus now, they have a reliable AC system that won’t be succumbing to corrosion and we have a plan in place so that when I’m not here the next term, that institutional knowledge of what to do next time is retained,” Giordano said.
As far as any ill will towards the town for the delay, the general consensus from the seniors is that they’re just grateful the new bus finally came.
“They knew we needed it and we did need it,” Enid Bousfield says. “It’s wonderful to have it.”
“I know Joe was on the phone constantly trying to get updates and trying to get it here quicker,” Bob Diedrick adds.
A fair is required to ride the senior bus. It’s $2 per day, but with that one payment, the seniors can make as many stops as they want, before going home.
“One of the main reasons I moved here is because I can no longer drive,” says rider Elaine Buxton.