Some DeKalb County senior citizens are concerned that a free shuttle service may be ending.
Funding is running out for the Golden Shuttle, a free service to people 60 and older who register at Senior Connections. There are three Golden Shuttle buses in the county–Chamblee, Toco Hills and south DeKalb.
Shuttle user Carole Feinberg said the service “allows people who either never drove or have given up driving or who want to save money to be mobile.”
In Toco Hills, where Feinberg lives, the shuttle runs “only two days which is better than zero days a week,” she said.
It picks up seniors at several senior complexes and takes them to grocery stores, Decatur, a farmer’s market, DeKalb Medical and two malls.
“I’d love to see this every day,” said Feinberg, who has ridden the shuttle nearly every Friday since it began operating in March.
“It would be a sad thing to offer something to us for a few months and then take it away,” Feinberg said. Toco Hills riders are holding fundraisers to keep it running past June when the funding runs out.
Feinberg said the shuttle “stops at several of our senior developments and …enables some [seniors] to get out and about.”
“I have heard riders express gratitude for this bus, because it enables them to maintain a degree of independence, or achieve a degree of independence they had lost,” Feinberg said. “This Golden Shuttle bus service adds to the quality of life of seniors.
“Many of us have lived in DeKalb County our entire adult life—raising our family here, paying our taxes here, and we wish to remain here to live independently as long as possible,” Feinberg said. “The Golden Shuttle enables seniors to easily reach areas that have been off bounds to them if they had no car.”
The shuttles, which are funded through a$150,000 grant from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), “started as a pilot to see how it would work,” said Karl Williams, deputy director for the county’s human and community development department. “They kind of went off like gangbusters.”
The shuttles are free to seniors, but a fee may be added later if the program continues, Williams said. County officials have applied for funding from DHHS to keep the shuttles running.
The Chamblee shuttle, which began in May 2011, runs five days a week with about 150 people registered to use it. In Toco Hills, the shuttle runs on Mondays and Fridays with 182 registered passengers. The south DeKalb shuttle, which began in March 2012, runs on Saturdays and has 100 registrants.
The route for each shuttle is a one-hour loop through senior high-rise complexes and is tied into a MARTA route.
The routes change based on consumer input, Williams said.
“They have the choice of where the bus route goes,” Williams said. “It takes them where they want to go during the time of day they want to move.”