Dave Dale, the chairperson for the Sylvan Lake Senior’s Bus and one of three volunteer drivers, poses for a photo in front of the bus. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

Patron numbers for Sylvan Lake Senior’s Bus on the decline

Dave Dale says the bus needs at least eight patrons from the twice-monthly trips into the city

The Sylvan Lake Senior’s Bus say the lack of clients on regular trips to Red Deer is costing them money.

The Sylvan Lake Senior Citizen’s Bus Association has changed its run times a couple times to help accommodate a smaller number of clients, though it hasn’t helped much.

Dave Dale, one of the volunteer drivers and chairperson for the association, says something needs to change.

“We are looking at our options… We just can’t run if we have less than eight people on the bus,” he said.

Dale says it costs around $100-$150 an hour to operate the bus for the twice-a-month trips into Red Deer, having less than eight patrons use the bus is not worth it.

“An at that point you have too look at the volunteers as well. We have to make sure their time isn’t being taken advantaged of,” said Dale.

In recent years the bus has changed its schedule from weekly trips into the city to twice a month, and even shortened the time frame.

Dale says this was done to accommodate fewer patrons, and requests for pick ups to start later in the morning.

“We used to have a devoted number of patrons from the Lodge and Bethany, but sadly they have all passed on. Now I believe the Lodge has their own bus, which means less patrons for us,” Dale said.

“We are looking at whether or not we still have a service to offer.”

He says the volunteers who run the association have done as much as they can to garner new clients for the trips into the city. However, there still seems to be many people within Sylvan Lake who don’t know the bus is an option.

“We put up flyers, we are in the paper, our posts on Facebook are shared a lot… We just don’t know what else to do.”

A potential option to help continue the twice-monthly trips is to cut down on pick up locations, and possibly also increase the cost from $10 to $15.

Right now the bus travels through Sylvan Lake to pick up patrons, and drop them off. Dale says this is the biggest cost facing the bus.

“We are looking at maybe having one central pick-up and drop-off location, like the NexSource Centre. That is what we do for our chartered events, and it does very well,” he said.

The chartered events, like the trip to Camrose to see the Everly Brothers or trips to Calgary and Edmonton, is what keeps the Senior’s Bus operational.

However, the bus is getting older and without proper funds coming in a replacement can’t be afforded.

“Right now the bus is in good condition, but it’s a 2003 and there are certain standards and requirements we have to meet,” Dale said.

According to Dale the 24-seat bus is inspected twice a year to make sure it is up to provincial standards.

The Sylvan Lake Senior’s Bus goes out the first and third Thursday of the month and makes four stops in Red Deer, costing each patron $10, which includes the return trip.

Members of the association are hosting a “coffee date” at the Senior’s Centre in the NexSource Centre on Sept. 30, 10 a.m., for those interested in learning more.

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