Great article by Karen Quinn Fung in the Metro Newspaper! Original article here.
Thursday is National Seniors Day. Many seniors today enjoy healthy, independent, socially connected lives, supported by loved ones and surrounded by familiar places — a cause for celebration and gratitude.
But a fair number also face uncertainty, if they are unable to safely operate their cars or cannot afford to do so. In many Vancouver neighbourhoods that primarily cater to drivers, giving up a car can mean not just a harder time meeting basic needs or accessing medical services. It can mean more effort required to stay connected to friends and family, to participate in community or to enjoy recreational activities.
That’s a big loss to those of us who value and cherish our seniors. But it can be devastating for seniors lacking other sources of support.
New challenges spur new solutions. I learned of one called the Bus Co-op, which adds yet one more option in the eternal struggle to get around in ways that work.
Much like car-sharing, popular with individual drivers in Metro Vancouver, bus-sharing allows organizations to use buses when they need them, in a different way than traditional ownership or bus rentals.
It works like this: An organization invests in shares in the co-op to become a member. As a member, they can rent and use buses that are stored, maintained and insured by the Bus Co-op. Members book vehicles in advance, picking them up and dropping them off at permanent storage locations. Organizations provide their own driver, and take responsibility for fees like parking and tolls. The buses transport 18 to 22 people at a time.
Meanwhile, ongoing costs like insurance, maintenance and long-term parking are spread among all the co-op’s members. All benefit by paying cop-op staff to manage these details, allowing for better use of an organization’s staff time. The member organizations have a partnership role in the co-op, compared to just being a customer of a rental bus company. And they also get more of a say in the future of the vehicles.
For the Bus Co-op’s members, working with and providing services to seniors, the co-op model is a great fit. They’ve been garnering attention and interest among potential member organizations from across Metro Vancouver, who all have transportation needs but who want to spend less of their tight budgets on getting around.
More proof that when we work together to respond to where our assets, strengths and needs lie, we can not only make better use of what we’ve got — we create better ways of working for everyone.
Karen Quinn Fung writes on sustainable transportation issues and policy. Find her
@counti8 on Twitter.
Each co-op member organization appoints a representative to the co-op who helps guide decisions, growth, policies and operations.
There are currently three Board Members:
President: Janice McTaggart, Director of Outreach and Volunteer Services, Langley Seniors Resources Society
Janice is a dynamic, inspiring, and indefatigable community leader, dedicated to creating the community connections that keep seniors active, healthy, and engaged. She tirelessly advocates, organizes, and works to provide opportunities and services for seniors. She was instrumental in moving The Bus Co-op from an idea into a reality.
Vice- President: Pam Murphy Bria Homes Area General Manager Langley
Pam brings the same business savvy, passion, and team-based leadership to her role with the co-op that she uses in her work with Bria. Pam has been the General Manager for Magnolia Gardens for 11 years, creating successful seniors’ community engagement models.
Secretary-Treasurer: Braydon Short, Director of Finance, Langley Care Society
Braydon brings his financial and business knowledge to the team. Throughout his career as a CPA, he has helped many organizations prosper. He has enjoyed twenty years working in long term care, where he is able to help seniors in the community.
With a volunteer board who all have full time jobs, The Bus Co-op has partnered with two other organizations to deliver services for the co-op.
The STAR program of BEST (Better Environmentally Sound Transportation)
STAR- Seniors Transportation: Access and Resources- an initiative of Better Environmentally Sound Transportation- is geared towards assisting seniors’ serving agencies in providing transportation solutions to their clients. STAR offers volunteer ride management software, web-based transportation planning tools, and online resources including a toolkit for elderly drivers and their families. STAR’s work with agencies in many areas of the province, including creating needs analyses and feasibility studies on transportation services, and undertaking a comprehensive inventory of agency and care home vehicles, gives STAR a solid background and unique position to work with The Bus Co-op.
STAR provides day-to-day operational and administrative support for the co-op, working closely with the Board of Directors and the other service partner, MODO
MODO, The Car Co-op, is North America’s first car-sharing cooperative, formed in 1997. Starting with six people and one car, it has grown to serve nearly 10,000 people with more than 300 vehicles. A practical demonstration of the value of sharing over individual ownership, MODO has become a world leader in car sharing and management. Along the way, it developed its own leading edge, proprietary car sharing software, Engage.
MODO provides its sophisticated Engage booking software and fleet management services to The Bus Co-op.