In an initiative years in the making, the Taber and District Handi-Bus Association has realized its dream of a new bus to better service its clients with transportation needs.
The new bus has nearly doubled its overall seating capacity from the old one that was getting aged out, along with being a lot more wheelchair, and safety friendly in helping clients on and off the bus.
Decked out with numerous safety and comfort features, the bus will help fill a need the association helps address that is so urgently apparent.
Demand for the ride service has increased from 700 to 13,000 in less than a decade the service has been in existence.
For those doing the math, that is more than 18 times over since its inception in the Taber area, showcasing a demographic as a whole that is aging in southern Alberta with the Baby Boomers well into their senior years.
As the association embarked on its mission to attempt to replace its old bus that is well over 200,000 kilometres now on the road, it did its due diligence.
Testing out several different busses, the one that was eventually agreed upon was the consensus one picked by most seniors who rode in it and enjoyed its creature comforts.
Fundraising from the ground up for the $153,000 new handi-bus was done fairly quickly given the large price tag. That is a sign it is a service both the Town of Taber and M.D. of Taber councils both truly believed in with their aid. Their help also aided the association in acquiring a $75,000 Community Initiatives Program grant that helped cut the fundraising needs in nearly half.
While the handi-bus service is done primarily within town limits (about 85 per cent) as of now, plans are for the association to expand well into the M.D. of Taber and Vauxhall areas, if efficiencies and economies of scale can be achieved with its shoe-string budget.
While the old warhorse of a previous bus has plenty of wear and tear with hundreds of thousands of kilometres on it, the association is still planning on utilizing it for special events to send seniors to.
It is no secret, that as we age, with the march of Father Time comes a greater likelihood of reduced mobility.
The Taber and District Handi-Bus Association helps those people with limited mobility or transportation issues, continue to be a vibrant part of their communities, communities they have given decades of service to previously, through a cost-effective ride service.
Keeping seniors plugged into the community around them keeps the access of their wisdom and kindness flowing which is beneficial to the community as a whole.
It also helps with the mental health of those being transported who have mobility issues in that they are not becoming shut-ins.
Being able to get out into the community to socialize and function in your everyday errands gives a sense of belonging and purpose that being relegated to your residence simply cannot achieve at the same level.
So a tip of the hat should be given to the association, both town and M.D. councils, the business community and individuals who helped the new handi-bus become a reality.
The bus serves a vital role in various communities in helping the aging population get as much out of their lives as they can in their Golden Years.