York County senior citizens encouraged to take the bus

YORK, Pa. --'Take the bus and leave the driving to us' used to be a national bus company's tag line.

Now, it's a message York County officials want to send to senior citizens.

People with York County's Agency on Aging, Traffic Safety, and Coroner's office all want to help older people in York County get on the bus.

Public transportation offers more than just a bus ride to some people.

Bus rider Linda Haberkam said "I lost my husband years back, and I was at home. I was very depressed, had no way of getting anywhere and then a neighbor happened to tell me about RabbitTransit."

York County community leaders hope others also will get on the bus.

Center for Traffic Safety director Barbara Zortman said "we discovered that there was an increase in crashes involving older drivers, 65 and over, in the York County area."

York County coroner Pam Gay said "in 2016, those numbers reflected that 36 percent of our traffic crashes involve people over the age of 50."

It's why some encourage seniors to leave the driving to someone else.

"It softens the blow a little bit, if mom or dad have to give up their keys, but 'hey, let's get you introduced to public transportation so you can keep that freedom,'" Zortman said.

"These individuals should be living out their last year's naturally and dying naturally, and that's too many to be dying in these tragic crashes," Gay said.

The York County Community Foundation presented RabbitTransit with a $10,000 check to kick off its 'Live Fully, Travel Safely' program, with the hope of reducing those crash numbers.

RabbitTransit executive director Rich Farr said "connecting the dots of the resources that are available that are available in the community, transportation resources, and connecting the senior to that so they can get where they need to go."

York County Area Agency on Aging director Mark Shea said "they can actually train an older adult to learn how to use the system, and that breaks down that barrier of not knowing, or breaks down that fear barrier of 'I don't know how to do this so I'm not going to try it.'"

"When driving becomes unsafe, we know that people stay home, and they become isolated, and that's not what we want them to be," Farr said.

Neither does Haberkam, who can't imagine a life without rabbit transit.

"They've gotten me to the center, they take you grocery shopping, you get to get out and meet people on the bus, new friends everywhere, its been a blessing," Haberkam said.

Of course not all seniors are incapable of driving safely.

PennDOT will not automatically take away an older person's license, but it does offer steps people can take if they are concerned about the driving ability of an elderly loved one.