Douglas County Senior Services has made a bus available for use in Baldwin City, but it will be up to the community to determine how well it can serve the city’s seniors.
Tina Roberts, resource development manager for Douglas County Senior Services, said she was part of a committee of Baldwin City service providers and interested residents who met the past two years to identify social service needs in the community.
“The one thing that kept coming up was senior transportation,” she said. “People just can’t get to where they need to go.”
To help fill the void, Douglas County Senior Services has provided a wheelchair accessible, 10-passenger bus for use of those 60 years of age or older, Roberts said. It is the same bus a Baldwin City resident with the agency, Jackie Lorenzen, used to provide very limited service in the past, Roberts said.
The agency will provide insurance and the tag for the bus, and the community will provide volunteer drivers and pay for its fuel and maintenance, she said.
Bill Neuenswander, who is leading the local effort, said the goal was to start the service by June 1. He envisioned the bus providing rides to locations in Baldwin City as often as twice a week and making a weekly trip to Lawrence for shopping and other needs. Special outings to such locations as Lone Star Lake also might be offered, he said.
“I would think most of the trips would be in Baldwin City or to Lawrence,” he said. “We will be permitted to go anywhere in Douglas County. We’re not insured to take the bus out of Douglas County.”
But just what can be offered will depend on the number of residents who join him in volunteering to drive the bus, Neuenswander said. He has found a volunteer to take calls to schedule rides, he said.
Neuenswander said he would approach local business and the city for fuel and maintenance funds so that the cost to riders can be kept low.
“I think the charge in Lawrence is $3 for a ride in town and $10 for a ride out of town and $10 for a ride back,” he said. “I want to get donations so we don’t have those kinds of charges for people with restricted incomes.
“I don’t see us needing a great deal of money, but we will need some.”
Roberts and Neuenswander said they and other supporters would have fundraising events for the service in the near future.
To make a donation or to volunteer to drive the bus, call Neuenswander at 785-594-3559.