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| 3 min read | By: Seth Kinker, skinker@thesuntimesnews.com |

At the Sept. 23 Chelsea city council meeting, council member Peter Feeney reported that the Chelsea Senior Center (CSC) and the Western Washtenaw Area Value Express (WAVE) had come to an agreement to expand bus services to seniors that would begin on Oct. 1.

In late 2018, with the CSC’s goal of helping add on to and expand the transportation network in the area, they were awarded $150,000 from the Vital Seniors Competition. A $50,000 grant for Rural Older Adults in Motion (ROAM, the name of their transportation network), as well as a $100,000 innovation prize.

That influx of funding was planned to go towards more staff hours to help build capacity of ROAM, expanding existing mass transit, community outreach, and the subsidization of rides for those who need them for critical services.

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As a result of the agreement between the CSC and WAVE, a 12-passenger bus with a wheelchair lift was purchased and began its service on Oct. 1 when it picked up its first passenger at the CSC on Tuesday morning.

“We finally made the deal work just a week ago (from last Friday),” said CSC Executive Director Bill O’Reilly on Oct. 1. “It’s a new contract and it’s a great partnership. We had the grant money and they had the ability to do it. $50,000 from the grant went towards the purchase of a bus and WAVE provided the other $8,000 and change. We’re providing them money annually to maintain it, the driver, insurance, and those types of things.”

Under the new program, seniors are eligible for free door to door transportation to and from the CSC.

While running Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 4 :30 p.m., coverage area includes the cities of Dexter and Chelsea and townships including Lima, Lyndon, Sylvan, Dexter, and portions of Scio.

With part of the coverage area including the Scio Township Meijer location, riders can transfer to the AAATA bus system to travel to location in Ann Arbor for a fare.

“Negotiations have been ongoing for about 6 months,” said O’Reilly. “It’s still a little unreal (to see it in motion). Gary Munce, who is our director, he and I were texting this morning and he used those exact words, ‘it still doesn’t quite feel real,’ It’s wonderful for the whole community and people need to start taking advantage of it.”

For the full press release from the CSC and WAVE, read below.

“An innovative partnership between the Chelsea Senior Center and W.A.V.E. will bring added transportation options for older adults. The Boards of Directors for The Chelsea Area Senior Center (CSC) and Western-Washtenaw Are Value Express (WAVE) are very pleased to announce their agreement to provide expanded transportation options for area older adults (60+).  This effort is made possible through a grant awarded to the Senior Center’s Rural Older Adults in Motion (ROAM) program by the Vital Seniors Competition (funded by the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation and the Glacier Hills Legacy Fund) as well as State, Federal and other funding provided by W.A.V.E.

“A 12-passenger bus with a wheelchair lift has been purchased and was placed into service on October 1st.  Under this new program, Seniors are eligible for free door-to-door transportation to / from the Chelsea Senior Center.  Additionally, qualifying seniors scheduled on this bus can travel free of charge to / from other locations in the Chelsea area as well as the Dexter area.  The service area of this partnership includes the City of Chelsea, the City of Dexter, Lima, Lyndon, Sylvan, Dexter and portions of Scio Township.”Riders can also travel to / from the Zeeb Road Meijer with schedule availability.  At that location, riders can opt to transfer to an AAATA bus to travel to locations in Ann Arbor for a fare.  This new service operates between 8:00 am and 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.  Rides must be scheduled in advance through WAVE’s Dispatch Center and are subject to schedule availability.  The ROAM vehicle is dedicated to Senior riders.  Caregivers accompanying Seniors riders always travel free.

“WAVE will continue to operate their local and county-wide door-to-door, fixed route and local free shuttle programs.  To reserve a ride on the new ROAM vehicle, please call WAVE at 734-475-9494 (8:00 to 4:15 M-F).  Seniors needing ride services outside WAVE service hours and boundaries can contact CSC to schedule alternative transportation, at cost, via Lyft and Uber.  To schedule off-hours or out of the service area rides, call CSC at 734-475-9242 (8:30 – 4:00 M-F). 

“This program only applies to this ROAM vehicle and does not apply to other WAVE vehicles.

“Questions regarding the program can be directed to CSC’s Executive Director, Bill O’Reilly, at 734-475-9242 (boreilly@ChelseaSeniors.org) or WAVE’s Executive Director, Michaelene Pawlak, at 734-433-1338 (wwaveadministration@comcast.net).”

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