The Rocky View Regional Handibus Society continued to provide a transit service to residents in Chestermere, Rocky View County, Cochrane, and Crossfield throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We didn’t miss a day. While a lot of things were shut down, some critical things kept going, like dialysis, chemotherapy, and sometimes it’s just about people trying to get groceries. Someone still had to be there to provide transportation for critical needs,” said the Rocky View Regional Handibus Society General Manager, Paul Siller.
Siller is now seeing user numbers increase as more residents are beginning to go to appointments, and more businesses and programs reopen.
“By late October, we’ll be in the 60 per cent range of what we had been doing,” Siller said.
“The reason it’s dropped is because programs have closed, and people are staying at home,” he added. “It’s been a very turbulent time for everybody.”
The Rocky View Regional Handibus Society is a weekday-only service with a maximum of 20 single journeys or 10 round trips per month.
“We provide a basic community transport service for people who are facing transit barriers, that could be from disability or because of income,” he said.
Many protocols have been implemented to ensure the safety of passengers and to limit the spread of COVID-19.
All drivers are required to complete a self-check screening to ensure they are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.
“We have masks, and sanitizer for the driver and passengers, we’ve also ramped up our cleaning schedules, and the vehicles are scrubbed and sanitized,” Siller said.
Adding, “We made more use out of our larger vehicles, so passengers could physical distance in the vehicles.”
The Rocky View Regional Handibus Society is now working to replace smaller vehicles with larger vehicles to ensure social distancing measures can be maintained.
“What used to seat four people and a wheelchair, now can only seat two people or three people. Our minivans we would take two people, now we can only take one, so we’re making two trips,” Siller said.
“We’ve dropped our efficiency by 50 per cent,” he said.
Siller’s goal is to obtain three vehicles through targeted fundraising with community organizations and businesses, and events such as casino nights.
“We’re trying to get three, we have funds for the first one, and it’s been ordered. Our attitude is that instead of trying to buy three, as soon as we have enough funds for a bus let’s get the order in, and get it on its way,” Siller said.