‘It means a lot, a whole lot

St. Fin­tan’s woman calls Ride for Ages bus ‘a god­send and a bless­ing’

The Western Star - - Front Page - BY DIANE CROCKER

An­nie White didn’t need the politi­cians in the room to tell her that the Ride for Ages, Com­mu­nity Trans­porta­tion bus is a great thing.

The 82-year-old St. Fin­tan’s res­i­dent is a reg­u­lar rider and was one of a group from the Bay St. Ge­orge area who hopped on board for a trip to Cor­ner Brook on Mon­day morn­ing.

They were des­tined for the arts and cul­ture cen­tre where Premier Dwight Ball an­nounced $300,000 in fund­ing for six pro­jects un­der the Age-Friendly Trans­porta­tion Grants Pro­gram.

The Bay St. Ge­orge Devel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion, which op­er­ates the Ride for Ages bus, was one of the groups to re­ceive $50,000.

White has been rid­ing the bus since the pi­lot project started three years ago.

“Oh my dear it means a lot, a whole lot,” she said of the trans­porta­tion ser­vice af­ter the an­nounce­ment. “A god­send and a bless­ing,” she added with a sigh.

White is a widow and doesn’t have a car. With no fam­ily in the area she used to rely on good friends to get where she needed to go. It was great to have the help, but it was some­times lim­it­ing.

Now she uses the bus to get to med­i­cal ap­point­ments, to go on shop­ping trips and so­cial ex­cur­sions like dancing ev­ery Sun­day in Bara­chois Brook and laughs say­ing: “I goes to church in the morn­ing, goes dancing in the af­ter­noon.”

There is a sched­ule for the month and when­ever the bus goes she’s on it.

“This is beau­ti­ful, I hope we’ll al­ways keep it. It’s the best thing that ever hap­pened to our com­mu­nity out there.”

White has even taken on a sense of own­er­ship with the bus and will help out with keep­ing track of the pas­sen­gers as they board the bus.

That sense of be­long­ing in get­ting the se­niors in the com­mu­ni­ties to buy into the pro­gram was a chal­lenge.

“We thought get­ting the se­niors on the bus and hav­ing them use it was go­ing to be fairly sim­ple,” said as­so­ci­a­tion board mem­ber Mon­ica McGrath.

But peo­ple were set in their own ways, she said, get­ting where they needed for years by catch­ing a ride with friends or fam­ily.

McGrath said they had to work to change their mind­set, and now is see­ing rid­er­ship steadily in­creas­ing.

The per­sonal ser­vice pro­vided by project co-or­di­na­tor Travis Hu­lan is also help­ing as he makes con­tact with the clients let­ting them know what’s hap­pen­ing.

The as­so­ci­a­tion will use the money it’s get­ting this year to sub­si­dize the run­ning of the bus in or­der to keep the cost to users low and for ad­ver­tis­ing the ser­vice.

DIANE CROCKER/THE WEST­ERN STAR

An­nie White, front, is a reg­u­lar user of the Bay St. Ge­orge De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion’s Ride for Ages, Com­mu­nity Trans­porta­tion bus. She and fel­low users, Maude Chaf­fey, back left, and Glo­ria Stock were among a group that vis­ited Cor­ner Brook on Mon­day.

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