It has been ten years since the seniors in the Caldwells had a new bus, but thanks to a recent grant received by the township, local elders will be riding in style.
By the end of October or early November, 100 residents in three towns will be able to take advantage of a brand new bus through a shared service program. The new bus has been made possible through a grant awarded to West Caldwell Township by Essex County Freeholders.
While the old bus still runs, the vehicle has become old and less reliable over the past decade. Officials are pleased that local seniors will be soon transported to nearby areas, whether for shopping, community events or eating out in updated wheels.
“It’s great that we get this grant,” says West Caldwell Council-member Stan Hladik. “I’m very excited; our seniors deserve the best we can offer them. This bus will go a long way to filling their shopping needs.”
At the Aug. 4 West Caldwell Town Council meeting, Hladik announced that the Essex County Freeholders had award the township a Community Block Development Grant to pay for the new senior bus. The vehicle will be shared with West Caldwell, Caldwell and Roseland as part of the township’s ongoing shared services agreement for the Senior Citizens Transportation Program.
For more than 30 years, the Senior Citizens Shared Services Agreement has been intact, says Hladik, who serves as liaison between the town council and shared services program for senior citizen transportation, one of many shared services offered in the Borough of Caldwell.
Shared services for senior transportation with the three towns has been quite effective as the program requires funding every year to cover the cost of a driver, gas, insurance and vehicle maintenance, says Hladik. With each town receiving $20,000 for the grant, Hladik estimates the bus to cost about $60,000.
While the new bus will be the same size, the vehicle will be “more comfortable,” says Hladik; have central air-conditioning and heat; as well as a hydraulic lift for wheelchair accessibility, a feature not equipped on the old bus, he adds.
Township officials had applied for the block grant earlier this spring, as they knew the old bus was reaching 100,000 miles and it was ‘time to replace it.” Hladik says the bus will most likely be traded in.
The bus is available to seniors five days a week, Monday through Friday, with local stops including Willowbrook Mall, Verona Park, the Caldwell Community Center, different food establishments, and grocery stores such as Shoprite and Stop and Shop.
The senior bus is a free transportation service available to all residents 60 years or older living in Caldwell, West Caldwell and Roseland. An identification card is required and can be obtained at the Caldwell Senior Center. Residents should call 973-226-5108 to reserve their place on the bus daily.