Routt County's new 12-passenger, wheelchair-accessible 2004 Ford van is expected to attract more West Routt County seniors to programs sponsored by the Routt County Council on Aging.
Shelley Orrell, program director for the Routt County Council on Aging, said she thinks the new van will mean new users, especially because it can accommodate people using wheelchairs.
"I think it will get used much more now that we have the new one," Orrell said.
People with bad knees or other difficulties walking won't have to climb into the van, but instead can ride up on the wheelchair lift, she said.
The old van was a 1991 Ford and was due to be replaced, Orrell said.
Routt County obtained a grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation that funded 80 percent of the cost of the van, or about $39,000. Routt County paid the remaining $9,700.
Tammie Crawford, field coordinator for the Routt County Road and Bridge Department, said it took about a year to receive the van because of the grant and purchasing processes.
Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said the van needed to be replaced, so it was helpful that the county could fund most of the replacement cost with a CDOT grant.
The van is one of three used by the Routt County Council on Aging; the other two are used for the Steamboat Springs and South Routt areas.
One hundred seniors, many between the ages of 80 and 95 years old, rode one of the group's vans in 2004, making for a total of more than 11,000 units of transportation, or one-way transports of individuals, Orrell said.
The West Routt bus transported 20 individuals during the year, for about 1,900 units of transportation. The bus also is used to bring meals to seniors.
The new van means that all three of the council's vans comply with new rules related to the Americans with Disabilities Act, Orrell said. The van should give seniors from the West Routt area, especially Hayden, more opportunities to share meals and shopping trips with each other.
"Without transportation, it's sort of hard to have a nutrition program, too," Orrell said.
The nutrition and shopping program is vital to seniors' health for many reasons, she said.
"It's much more than a meal," Orrell said. "For some people, it's a reason to get up in the morning ... especially people who are living by themselves. And it helps people maintain their independence for as long as possible."