Senior bus busy around Madison County, except in Ennis

Seniors from the Madison Valley can catch a ride to Bozeman for doctor’s appointments or shopping each week, but very few are taking advantage of it.

The Madison County Transit Bus has been in operation for several years, and is a way for citizens from communities around the county to get to appointments in Butte, Dillon or Bozeman.

This February, the old bus was sold and replaced by a brand new model, purchased with money collected from users along with funds from the elder levy passed last year. The levy is a countywide tax that raises about $140,000 a year for senior services, said Barbie Durham, grant administrator for Madison County.

The old Madison County Transit bus was at the end of its life and so about the first thing the elder levy money was put towards was a replacement bus, which cost about $65,000.

Pat Gooding from Harrison drives the bus and though she’s busy with riders from Harrison, Sheridan, Twin Bridges and Pony, she hardly ever has a rider from Ennis.

The bus holds 12 passengers and two wheel chairs. On most trips, Gooding takes riders to doctor’s appointments, shopping and to lunch. She organizes the trips so as to be able to accommodate all necessary appointments and needs.

“I kind of see what everybody needs to do and I just have to kind of figure it out from there what works best,” she said.

The bus is scheduled to be on the road Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Gooding said.

Tuesday is reserved for Ennis passengers, Wednesday is for Ruby Valley riders and Thursday is for Harrison and Pony residents, Gooding said.

The Ruby Valley riders go to Butte most weeks, but one day a month they travel to Dillon, she said. The Harrison and Pony riders go to either Butte or Bozeman. Passengers are asked to schedule their doctor’s appointments between 10 a.m. and noon, she said. Typically, she has people home by early afternoon.

Riders with special needs or who are severely ill or disabled need to be accompanied by a caregiver, Gooding said.

Bus riders are requested to make a $4 donation for the ride, said Bob Loveland, the Ennis representative for the Madison County Senior Citizens board.

Loveland has been busy trying to spread the word around Ennis about the bus.

“People have got to understand we paid for that bus and it’s brand new and we paid for it out of the mill levy,” Loveland said. “All of the other areas use it and we don’t and I don’t understand why. I think we just need to get the word out.”

To ride the bus, call Gooding at 682-3448 to schedule a ride.

Anyone can ride the bus, but preference will be given to seniors and medical appointments have priority over other errands.

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