Seniors get first glimpse of new bus |

Seniors get first glimpse of new bus

Ryan Hoffman
Seniors and city officials gather for a ribbon cutting outside the Rifle Senior Center Tuesday, June 2.
Ryan Hoffman / Citizen Telegram |

Rifle seniors got their first glimpse Tuesday of a new bus that will serve as transportation for events and trips departing from the Rifle Senior Center. The general response was “wow.”

“It’s wonderful,” said Jan Detwiler. She and six others went for a ride in the bus through downtown Rifle after a ribbon cutting ceremony at the senior center.

The bus is actually one of two purchased by the city, for what Mayor Randy Winkler described as an “incredible deal.” The city paid $73,600 for the two identical buses — $25,000 is covered by a Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District Grant, and the remaining balance came from the city’s parks and recreation fund and senior center donations.

The King County Transit Authority in Seattle originally purchased the buses for $230,000 a piece, but the buses were returned because the drivers complained about the configuration of the cab, according to a memo to City Council from City Manager Matt Sturgeon.

Dave James, fleet mechanic for the city of Rifle, said he could not believe the deal at first. James, who found the buses, actually went back and did a thorough inspection of the buses to make sure there were no defects or major problems.

Combined, the two buses cost less than every other bus James looked at, and they met all of the city’s requirements: diesel engine, low to the ground, a minimum of 18 seats and others.

With the new buses, more seniors will be able to participate in events and go on trips, said Tami Sours, Rifle Senior Center director.

“We had several seniors who would not go on trips because the seats were too uncomfortable,” Sours said of the old bus. The new buses also will allow for longer trips that were previously ruled out due to concerns about the reliability of the old bus.

Sharon Taylor, one of the others who participated in the maiden voyage, said the new buses will definitely lead to more seniors going on the trips. On a trip in the old bus she bumped up and down so many times that her fitness band — which measures physical activity — registered 10,000 steps when she finally made it back to Rifle, she said.

“I love the trips, and this is going to make them more enjoyable,” Taylor added.

As for how the new bus drives, Lynn McConnell, senior programs driver, compared it to driving a Cadillac. But the real winners are the seniors, she said.

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