LANGLEY – The Bus Co-op is believed to be the first program of its kind in North America by its creators.
Officially launched Wednesday (Oct. 15), three Langley seniors’ agencies have come together, with the help of Vancity and TransLink, to create an affordable bussharing program for seniors.
Langley Seniors Resource Society (LSRS), Langley Care Society and Magnolia Gardens founded The Bus Coop. Members of the agencies, including Janice McTaggart of LSRS, and local dignitaries were on hand for the reveal of the bus donated by LSRC.
"We know firsthand that owning and maintaining a bus can be a huge burden for seniors agencies so why not share our resources? The co-operative model really appealed to us because it is democratic, values-driven and very connected to the community," McTaggart said.
With seniors making up approximately 14 per cent of Langley’s population, and that number growing, the new co-op allows seniors’ agencies to become a member of The Bus Co-op, book a bus, take a trip and return the bus.
All fuel, insurance and maintenance are covered by the co-op, with groups paying $40 an hour to use the bus. Member groups supply their own qualified driver.
The co-op has two buses and is looking for other seniors’ agencies in the area to become members. There may be expansion of the program into Surrey and White Rock in the future.
Vancity provided more than $165,000 in grants and financing for the program. Andy Broderick, vice-president of community investment with the credit union, was at the launch event.
"This kind of endeavor is a great part of the community," Broderick said. "We are honoured to be able to enter into a partnership with them (The Bus Co-op)."
Broderick noted the fact that the new program is a co-operative made it particularly appealing to Vancity.
"I commend TransLink for their generous donation of the bus," said Acting City Mayor Ted Schaffer. "This will provide seniors with additional opportunities to get involved and stay connected."
TransLink will be providing an additional vehicle in the future.
"From time to time, we are approached to provide a decommissioned bus to a charity or non-profit organization. In this case, we have arranged for an ‘end of service’ HandyDart bus to be donated to this group in November," explained Cheryl Ziola, TransLink media relations manager.
An aim of the program is to enable seniors’ agencies to ensure Langley seniors have more opportunities to be active.