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Seniors get a bus of their own

Seniors now have a bus of their own.

The Town Council on Oct. 5, 2016 approved a $65,000 expenditure from undesignated funds to purchase a 14-passenger minibus for Community Services senior programs. The minibus will eliminate having to use a school bus for senior programs, or from renting vans that are costly and often uncomfortable for older passengers.

Purchasing a seniors' bus is a recommendation of the Senior Citizen Advisory Commission. Action on those recommendations is one of the Town Council's goals for 2016.

Waumbek Road resident Chuck Rzeszutko, who has been participating in senior programming since retiring to Cape Elizabeth two years ago, said he believed the cost is a small price for making life easier for those who've given so much to the community. "As much as riding down memory lane in the yellow bus is fun, when you reach 60 trying to step up (the steps) with no handrails is really difficult," he said.

Community Services Adult Programs Coordinator Kathy Raftice said having a 14-passenger vehicle dedicated to senior programs will allow them to include more participants more comfortably. "On many of our trips we have to limit it to 10 people to utilize certain transportation that's available, where this would then up it to 14 - plus the driver," she said. She said she did not have specific numbers, but she sees the new bus as having a huge impact on senior services.

"There are quite a few senior programs that are very popular happening all the time and people have to be turned away," added Town Councilor Jessica Sullivan.

When not in use for seniors, the bus will be available for other Community Services or municipal program. But senior programming will have priority.

Cape Elizabeth joins recreation programs in other communities - including Gorham, Scarborough, Falmouth, Yarmouth, Standish, South Portland and Old Orchard Beach - that run a dedicated bus for seniors.