Bus helps some run errands

New Senior Center shuttle service will bring township seniors to locations on Route 27.

By: Rebecca Tokarz
   Township senior citizens and disabled residents who cannot drive can now get to the post office or bank without asking neighbors or family members for a ride.
   The South Brunswick Township Senior Center is now offering a shuttle bus on Tuesdays and Thursdays that will provide round-trip transportation to a number of locations along Route 27 for seniors who need to run errands.
   "This is a totally brand new service," said Christine Wildemuth, the Senior Center supervisor. "There are more homebound seniors or seniors that might not want to go to the mall or have someone take them."
   The errand shuttle joins other transportation services offered by the Senior Center as a way to keep seniors mobile and active, said Ms. Wildemuth.
   She said one of the center created the new route because of the need for the service and the fact that one of its bus drivers had some free time in his schedule.
   The center already free provides transportation to doctors and other medical appointments within a 20-mile radius of the township. In addition, a shuttle provides round-trip transportation to the Senior Center, located in the Municipal Complex on Route 522, as well as area grocery stores and malls.
   Ms. Wildemuth said the number of seniors using the shuttle services varies, but on an average day, the service takes about 60 residents to the center. Trips to the grocery stores usually have about 15 people on the bus and mall shuttles are usually filled with 35 riders.
   "It keeps the seniors from being isolated or alone. It’s great because it allows a person who can’t drive to get around to places they need to go to without burdening family or neighbors," Ms. Wildemuth said.
   The latest service hit the streets for the first time on Tuesday. It picks residents up at around 10:30 a.m. and takes them to run small errands. Only one location stop per trip is allowed for each rider. Stops include pharmacies, banks, post offices, convenience stores and other locations along Route 27 from Finnegans Lane to Kingston, Ms. Wildemuth said.
   Drop-off locations include: Finnegans Plaza, Dabs Plaza, Magyar Bank, Walgreens, the Kendall Park Post Office which has shops nearby, the PNC Bank Shopping Center, Park Plaza, The Village Shopper, Beekman Plaza, Franklin Towne Center, Wachovia Bank, Sun Bank, Kendall Park Shopping Center, The Market Place, The Kingston Mall, Fleet Bank, the Kingston Post Office and other nearby stores.
   The shuttle is open to residents 55 and older or those who can provide proof of a disability to Senior Center officials. An emergency contact form must be completed prior to transport, according to a press release issued on the service.
   Stops are in 30-minute increments and only one stop is allowed per trip. Seniors can be dropped off at a location and do not have to be picked up. There will be no return bus to pick up residents who miss the bus when it returns to the stop.
   Reservations must be made by 4 p.m. the day before pick up. A companion may accompany a resident for assistance. Cancellations should be made 24 hours in advance.
   Although only a handful of seniors reserved seats on Tuesday’s shuttle, Ms. Wildemuth said she’s confident that will change.
   "I see it becoming a big thing," she said. "The need has always been there, but there wasn’t enough staffing."
   To reserve a spot on the errand shuttle or for additional information about other transportation services provided by the Senior Center, call (732) 329-4000 ext. 676.