By CHARITY B. SMITH
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE — The Senior Center recently received a donation of a new bus from SMART, in order to transport senior citizens to and from doctor’s appointments, shopping trips, as well as the center’s group outings.
“It helps out a lot,” said Sandy Loft, senior coordinator for the Senior Center. “It allows us to get our seniors to doctors appointments and shopping. It helps to keep their independence and their freedom. It helps them to feel good about themselves.”
The bus was donated through the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation’s Community Partnership Program. It provides access to funding and SMART resources to help operate a transit program. These resources include administrative assistance, operating expenses, bus purchases, maintenance, loaner vehicles and technical assistance to develop, design and operate transit services.
“The SMART Community Partnership Program is an essential component in helping our senior citizens and disabled residents to remain independent, for as long as possible,” Mayor Stacy Striz said.
Communities that have a SMART millage receive “community credits,” and a portion of the transit property tax is returned to communities for operating and capital purchases. SMART is also the trustee for the State Municipal Credit Program. It redistributes $6.5 million annually via the municipal and community credit programs to community-based transit programs.
The bus is a replacement for an old bus that was starting to have problems.
“We run approximately 2,100 trips a year, so it had a lot of miles on it,” Loft said.
The new bus is equipped with a wheelchair lift and can hold up to 13 passengers. It also has a 6.8-liter diesel engine for better gas mileage.
“We’re thrilled to death,” Loft said. “It is just fantastic. “The seniors are thrilled. It’s nice to see them smile. They deserve it.”
There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony at 6 p.m. Oct. 7 outside of City Hall, prior to the City Council meeting. Striz and SMART executives will attend, along with many senior citizens who will get a ride to the ceremony on the new bus.