RSVP of Dane County Bus Buddy Program offers seniors the opportunity to learn while having fun!
Limited transportation options are a big stumbling block to accessing many of the opportunities in our community. Often seniors, people with disabilities are isolated because they are not able to drive or are afraid to drive in the city. Those that have never taken the bus or have not in a very long time, can feel overwhelmed. People tend to not venture out or go places they may want to go. Teaching them to utilize public transportation helps increase independence, enabling them to get out, see other people, be involved, and go to a variety of events and locations. The Bus Buddy program was developed to help those 60 and over learn to navigate the Madison Metro Bus System. The volunteer Coordinators meet with new passengers, teach riders about the bus system, routes, the bus stops nearest them, scheduling, transfers, accessibility (ramps, kneeling bus), and seating. They accompany the passengers on the first one or two trips and continue to accompany them until them they are comfortable to ride on their own. The coordinators provide them with the training and confidence they need to be able to use this low-cost transportation.
The Bus Buddy Tour Program started in Aug of 2014 offering seniors the opportunity to learn to navigate the bus while creating a fun social outing for those involved. Not only do these trips help teach participants how to navigate the bus system, but these trips also facilitate the integration of all participants forming a wonderful community promoting friendships, support and understanding.
One Bus Buddy participant stated:
“Regarding the wonderful zoo trip, I must convey particular thanks to Heather and Sue. Heather explained on the phone which bus stop I needed (confusing to me because construction had closed the usual bus stop) and she was there to greet me on the bus with the other sweet Buddies. She then walked with me from the bus stop to the zoo. Sue knew a short cut to the zoo which was appreciated.
Because the trip was strenuous for me, I was about to call a taxi to go home, but Heather and Sue both walked with me to the bus stop and were extremely considerate in walking slowly, and they looked for shaded spots where I could stop and rest. They then rode with me on the bus. It was one more opportunity to get over my discomfort with finding my way via the bus system.
A special shout out to Sue for going above and beyond what I would have expected from Bus Buddies at the end of the day. To decrease the number of blocks I would have to walk from the bus stop to my home, Sue planned a transfer for me, and she actually stayed on the bus and got off with me at the transfer rather than going on home herself. She did not need that transfer and could have gotten home earlier if she had just left me to do the transfer alone.
The heat almost did me in but these two particular Bus Buddies made the trip at the zoo and homeward a pleasure I won't forget. They and all of the volunteers made my day at the zoo possible. THANK YOU!”