Janesville71.5°

Program takes aim at seniors' bus fears

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
November 10, 2011
— Riding the city bus for the first time wasn't as scary as Richard Grams had feared.

Grams, 54, Janesville, worried he'd get off at the wrong bus stop and have to walk a mile to his destination.


That would be a problem because one side of his body has been numb since a stroke.


"I could probably walk two blocks at the most," he said.


Grams decided to overcome his fears by taking advantage of a free bus travel training program Tuesday morning led by Scott Hennings, Rock County Council on Aging mobility manager.


The program is for Rock County residents who want to travel independently by riding buses in Janesville or Beloit. The program teaches riders how to:


-- Plan a trip.


-- Read and understand route maps and schedules.


-- Get to and from bus stops.


-- Recognize bus numbers, bus stops and landmarks.


-- Pay fares and buy tickets and passes.


-- Get on and off the bus safely.


-- Use the ramp to board with a mobility device.


-- Locate and transfer buses.


-- Safely cross streets.


After 30 minutes of listening, Grams and a half dozen others from the apartment complex where he lives boarded a city bus with Hennings for a ride to and from the transfer center.


Grams said the ride helped him overcome some of his fears. He planned to study the transit map and route guide before riding the bus again with another resident, who would teach him more about transferring buses.


"It's fun, now," he said.


Hennings presents travel training in small groups or to individuals wanting help riding the bus. Since starting the program a month ago, he has presented a half-dozen sessions to 80 seniors and has another program scheduled.


"I figured seniors and people with disabilities have an even harder time navigating the bus system, so I thought I'd help them get familiar with it," he said.


Grams said he was surprised to learn how affordable it was to ride the bus. He said he's living on a fixed income and struggles to afford gas for his car, which he drives only when necessary.


Dorothy Sherman, 88, also attended Henning's training session and rode the bus.


"I want to at least know what's available," she said, "and be prepared if I my car breaks down."


FOR HELP

To learn more through the Rock County Council on Aging Travel Training Program about how to ride city buses, call Scott Hennings, mobility manager, at (608) 757-5408 or email hennings@co.rock.wi.us at least two days in advance to schedule a travel training session.


Training will be provided to individuals or in small groups at senior centers, apartments, schools or any other place organizations meet.



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