Access and Resources
An innovative program to keep seniors engaged, connected, socially active and independent is the Go Bus, operated by Silver Harbour Seniors Centre in North Vancouver. I recently had the opportunity to travel along with the Go Bus, its friendly driver John McCann, and its enthusiastic riders.
As seniors transition away from driving a car, adequate transportation can be a challenge. Yet it is a vital element in maintaining independence and emotional, mental, and physical well-being. To age in place happily, seniors need the ability to go shopping, get to appointments, and perhaps most importantly, maintain connections with family and friends.
The Go Bus is a shuttle bus service which helps seniors do those things, whether it’s going to appointments, errands, or to the Seniors Centre to socialize. When I arrived at Silver Harbour to meet the bus, a group of women were arriving to take a fitness class at the centre. After the driver, John McCann, established that he would be back at 11:30 to pick them up, I got on board and we headed off on his route. Over the course of the next two hours we drove all around North Vancouver, picking up and dropping off seniors going to doctor’s appointments, physio appointments, the bank, a nursing home for a visit, and a shopping mall.
Driver John, who has a background driving for care homes, said he has always seen the value in helping seniors get out of their homes and breaking their isolation. He is clearly committed to helping seniors — the Go Bus is not just about getting seniors from place to place, it is about helping them maintain relationships and quality of life.
For the seniors I met there could be no doubt that the Go Bus was essential to their well-being. There was an obvious satisfaction in knowing that there was reliable transportation and pleasure gained in the interactions with John and other seniors.
That the Go Bus is important to North Van seniors is further evidenced by the fact that when, in August 2010, the Go Bus was in danger of closing due to lack of funding, seniors rose in protest. After publicity in the local press and television, several sponsors stepped up to make contributions that kept the Go Bus going.
The Go Bus runs from 8:30-4:30, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and is available to seniors over 65 who have limited transportation options or are unable to access public transportation. There is no charge, but donations are accepted.