WINDSOR, N.S. -
The Windsor Senior Bus is often referred to as a lifeline for area residents.
Lola Weaver, a resident at the Victoria Park Guest House in Windsor, said she benefits from using the bus as it serves as a way to get out of the house and mix up the daily routine.
“We’ve gone to parks, gone on the Harbour Hopper, sometimes we’ll go out to a meal,” Weaver said. “We’ve gone on some long rides.”
The bus was leaving on Dec. 7 for a shopping trip to New Minas, however Weaver wasn’t able to make the trip herself because of a sore back. She’s hoping to go on future trips.
“We’re treated well here, but I don’t care how well you’re treated, you like to get out once and a while,” she said. “If you have strawberries every day you eventually get sick of them.”
The Windsor Senior Bus Society, the non-profit group that operates the bus, is currently fundraising to purchase a new, updated vehicle to replace the aging one.
Weaver said she’s hoping the society is successful in its goal to purchase a new vehicle and keep the service running.
“It’s very important to be able to see out the windows, and anything that doesn’t shake would be great,” she said with a laugh. “If we had a newer bus, maybe we’d utilize it more.”
During 2016, due to a lack of driver availability, the residents were unable to go on as many trips for long stretches. For some residents, the bus is the only option to get out for a drive, to do some shopping, or just sightsee.
“It’s important for everybody to get out once and a while,” she said. “It changes your whole outlook on life. If you just see the same people all the time, you’re not living; you have to get out and mix with people.”
Society wants new bus
Sue Sheehy, board member of the Windsor Senior Citizens Bus Society and manager of three care homes in the Windsor area including the Victoria Park Guest House, said the bus is an important service for the homes in the area.
“A lot of these folks don’t have any family or any other means to get out into the community,” Sheehy said. “This bus serves as their window to the world. They experience things they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.”
Sheehy said they’re still looking at a variety of options for a new vehicle, but would want to ensure it remains accessible for all users.
Leslie Porter, chairperson of the society, said they’re looking at the possibility of expanding service a bit more as well.
“Our society is here for one reason, and that is to take people on trips outside their homes,” Porter said. “But we would like to be able to offer this service to other people in the future.”
Five homes, of varying levels of care and clients, currently use the bus and those facilities pay user fees for the service.
The non-profit organization, which has ben in operation for 45 years, only has one paid employee, the driver, although the position is considered casual as the bus doesn’t run every day.
Porter said the bus, on average, operates between 170 and 180 days of the year. A new bus would allow them to charter that bus for other groups in the community and bring in more revenue for the society.
The society paid $20,000 in maintenance costs alone last year.
A new vehicle however, is a huge expense — more than $200,000 — and the society has just over $40,000 towards that goal now. They’re hopeful that fundraising will pick up in the years to come, with some new ideas being batted around.
“We’re really doing this for everybody, because at some point down the line, almost everybody is going to end up using that bus,” she said.