VON clients upset with the loss of able transit bus service

‘It means everything to me … otherwise I’d sit home and that would be a killer’

Published on February 13, 2014

TRURO – Clients of a local VON adult day program are saddened by the loss of the able transit bus in Truro.

As recently reported in the Truro Daily News, the Disabled Consumers Society of Colchester is shutting down because of a lack of funds. The society runs the bingo hall on Prince Street, which will close on Saturday, and the able transit bus, which will shut down Friday.

Truro Heights’ Mary Murphy, 90, has been attending the adult day program for more than a year. She goes three times a week and that may now be lessened or lost without the bus service.

“It means everything to me … otherwise I’d sit home and that would be a killer,” said Murphy, adding she has a drive to the VON program with family but getting home is not so easy.

“I’d feel very, very deprived if I couldn’t come here … I marvel at how attentive (bus staff) have been,” Murphy said, adding instead of just dropping clients off, bus drivers go “above and beyond” to help clients, and their mobility devices, in and out of buildings.

Another VON client, Stephen Higgins, 52, of Truro, has been attending the adult day program for three months. He’s come to rely on the program a few times a week and is devastated to see the bus service end.

“I feel awful because I rely on it. It keeps me from being bored” and depressed, Higgins said.

Higgins uses an electric wheelchair. It is too large to fit in regular vehicles and he has had difficulties navigating sidewalks in Truro with the machine. In fact, Higgins said, he’s fallen out of his wheelchair when it “hit a big dip in the sidewalk.”

Monique Natividad, the adult day program co-ordinator, said she’s “shocked and worried” how the bus closure will impact the program’s clients. Participating in the program, which offers baking, games, music, exercise and more, fosters socialization, physical fitness, fine-motor skills, and memory awareness, to name a few.  

“Families are calling me asking, ‘what are we going to do?’”

Natividad said the adult day program has about 25 members and more than half a dozen rely on the bus, some on a daily basis.

She has reached out to Colchester Transportation Co-operative Limited (CTCL) as a possible solution.

“They will do what they can but they may have to cut the number of visits down a week … because they are very busy,” said Natividad.

Teresa Higgins, CTCL manager and dispatcher, told the Truro Daily News CTCL will “absorb as many clients as we can” in addition to providing service to a private school, children’s programs, a stroke club and the Colchester Community Workshops.

“We can hold 18 people without wheelchairs or 10 seats with four wheelchairs,” said Higgins, adding CTCL is partially funded by the province with some municipal assistance.

“We are non-profit so we don’t want to jeopardize anything.”

Lillian Orr, vice-chairwoman of the Disabled Consumers Society of Colchester, is determined to keep the able transit bus on the road.

“I’ve sent letters to (the town and county) mayors and they asked for … financial statements,” said Orr, adding she will

“never give up as long as I breathe.”



Twitter: tdnMonique