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Easton Seniors Ride on New Wheels

EASTON, Conn. – The Easton Senior Center's new bus rolled into town Wednesday with upgraded and new safety features.

The center was awarded a $40,000 grant from the state to buy a new bus. Easton was one of only six towns to receive the grant. The previous bus was purchased in 2000 and had more than 200,000 miles on it.

"Easton doesn't have public transportation so we're dependent on our transportation," said Val Buckley, senior center director. "We've grown from a tiny van with about three seats and limited appointments to a 24/7 bus with two drivers, 12 seats and wheelchair accessibility for two chairs."

The bus transports seniors to and from dialysis treatments, the movies, the grocery store, therapy, surgery and social events at the senior center. About 25 journeys out and back are made each day.

Driver Randy Shapiro said he's on the go all day long. "The features are a lot better - it's a lot safer than the old bus," said Shapiro.

The total cost of the new bus was $57,160. The senior center used $10,000 from selling the old bus and $7,160 from its budget to pay the amount not covered by the state grant. The bus is a StarTrans Senator Series by Ford. A recent transportation grant received by the Easton Senior Center allows the center to add more hours for bus transportation.

Updated safety features include: a large window in the back and two smaller windows on the side, which can be pushed out in the event of an emergency; emergency door release; a camera so the driver can see what's behind the bus; a wheelchair lift, which has straps for both the chair and the person; leather or leather equivalent seats; and balance bars on the chairs.

"A lot of the seniors, especially those who use the van, have physical challenges," said Buckley, and these updates, such as the balance bars, will make traveling easier on them.

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