A new municipal bus service for seniors will begin this spring in North Delta.
The one-year pilot program was made possible thanks in part to a $20,000 grant recently provided by the provincial government.
Delta was one of 27 communities to receive the special grant aimed at assisting seniors with "age-friendly" projects to help them remain independent.
The North Delta Seniors' Bus pilot program is to provide seniors with accessible, affordable and reliable transportation options and offer convenient access to seniors' activity centres, shopping, local medical services, banking and other community amenities.
Commencing April 29, the service is intended to improve transit options for seniors and encourage isolated or inactive seniors to become engaged in recreation, social and healthy lifestyle activities.
South Delta will not be part of the pilot program.
A Delta staff report to Delta council notes that it's anticipated the program will evolve throughout the one-year pilot. The bus will initially operate three days per week during daytime hours. A committee will meet regularly to review the service and make adjustments, as required, to optimize the program based on the needs of the community.
Scheduling will be based out of the Kennedy Seniors Recreation Centre. The route will be determined by users and will include door-to-door stops at homes, shops, medical offices and other community amenities, such as community centres and libraries.
The report notes a critical component to the success of the program is engaging seniors in North Delta to use the service
The age-friendly planning and project grant program is a partnership between the provincial government and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM).
Grants of up to $20,000 are provided through UBCM to help establish, or continue, a variety of projects that support healthy, active seniors.
In September 2012, the government announced $500,000 in funding was available for 2013 grants. The $20,000 grant Delta received will cover only part of the $90,000 cost of the bus program, while the rest will be funded through a council contingency.
During the one-year pilot, staff will assess the long-term viability of the program, including whether it could also operate in South Delta.