Senior citizens try transit

A group of residents at Vermont Towers recently learned how to ride the city bus system. Lawrence Transit staff members Emily Lubliner and Serena Pearson spent time talking with the group about how the maps and schedules work. A few days later, they planned a training ride to put into practice the skills they had learned.

Catching Route 11 on Vermont Street, the group rode downtown, through the KU campus, out to the shopping area at 31st and Iowa, and back home again. For several residents, it was their first experience with the city bus.

Residents who participated were Maxine Jantz, Wilma Gates, Roberta Woodman, Pat Gibson, Teresa Munroe, Joy Cheek, John Weeks, and Joni Tipton, service coordinator.

Wilma Gates said, “This was an adventure! We got to see the town.” Gates said she would probably use the bus to go shopping on a Saturday.

Maxine Jantz said she has a car and still drives, but she would consider taking the bus, especially at night when she doesn’t like to drive.

Pat Gibson uses the T Lift paratransit service, but said sometimes it’s difficult to plan in advance and get a ride scheduled. The fixed-route system would give her more flexibility to just get on the bus and go. Driving by the United Way building on Ridge Court, Gibson reminisced about the past. “That used to be Valley View nursing home,” she said. “I trained to be a nursing aid and started working there in 1973.”

Another resident was reminded of her previous job. Roberta Woodman is a former bus driver herself. She learned to drive school buses in Chicago and later moved to Lawrence and drove for Laidlaw. “It was a good ride,” Woodman said. “We got to have an up close look at what's happening on the KU campus.”

Joni Tipton, service coordinator for Vermont Towers, said riding the bus was a good opportunity for folks to feel more connected to their community. “I’m excited to see you get out and expand what you can do,” she told the residents. “The bus really gives you more freedom, even just getting out and seeing the town. I think I'm going to try using the bus more myself.”

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