Handi Bus Society acquires a new set of wheels
Tuesday, Aug 18, 2015 02:13 pm
After 30 months of fundraising, the Rocky View Regional Handi Bus Society (RVRHS) has a brand new addition to its fleet – and Paul Siller, general manager of the organization, couldn’t be more excited.
“It’s been a little bit like Christmas around here,” he said.
The new bus, which features a hydraulic wheelchair lift and can accommodate eight riders and four wheelchairs, is slightly larger than the 17 vehicles currently owned by the society.
Although Siller is pleased to have the new bus on the road, demand for the organization’s services make this new addition long overdue.
“The challenge is, we need two more (like this). It’s a hard thing to sell, to get people (interested) in the purchase of an $80,000 vehicle,” he said. “But we are 20 per cent busier this year than the same time last year. We’re wearing our gear out.”
RVRHS provides transit services for individuals with special transportation needs throughout Rocky View County.
The organization receives financial support from municipalities, but 40 per cent less than what is required to “do the job properly,” according to Siller. The remainder of service costs are covered by user fees and donations, while funding for new buses is raised through grant applications and donations.
“Our fleet is old. ‘Mile-ing out,’ is the expression,” Siller said. “We’ve been trying to raise (money for) buses every year, but this is our first new bus since 2010. We’ve gotten other buses since, but they’ve been second-hand and hand-me-downs. Pretty high-maintenance.”
Although the cost for new vehicles is high, Siller said the investment in transportation for those with special transport needs saves money in the long run.
“The math behind this stuff is quite frightening. We figure a dollar spent taking someone to a medical appointment saves $7 in health care,” he said. “Helping a senior stay in their home instead of moving to a lodge saves (money).
“If we’re not around, it just costs everybody more.”
If funding falls into place, Siller said it would be ideal to order another bus in four or five months in order to sufficiently meet demand.
“We need some help to help your neighbours, the people we’re taking to various places and businesses,” he said.
“We’re asking (people) to help us help your neighbours.”
For more information on the RVRHS, visit rockyviewbus.ca