New wheels rolling to Nisky seniors

Board approves purchasing $55.4k bus to serve seniors

The new town bus will primarily be used to serve senior programming and it is expected to arrive early September.

The new town bus will primarily be used to serve senior programming and it is expected to arrive early September.

— Niskayuna seniors are set to receive a fresh ride after imploring town officials to purchase a new bus.

The Niskayuna Town Board on Tuesday, Aug. 28, unanimously approved accepting a bid from Johnston-based Don Brown Bus Sales, Inc., to purchase a new 2013 Starcraft All-Star passenger bus for a total price not exceeding $55,445. The purchase price falls below the $60,000 the town in May bonded to purchase the bus. Also, around $9,500 will be used from a bequest given to the town to benefit seniors in the town.

Margaret Blechienger, a resident who has spoken on behalf of seniors requesting the town to purchase a new bus, said she was pleased to see the resolution pass after “years and years” of efforts.

“Finally we have reached tonight,” Blechienger said after the meeting. “I was saying to myself, ‘Please don’t let it fail tonight.’ I just wanted the vote to go through.”

Seniors have expressed frustration over the length of time it took to purchase the new bus, especially with funds donated to the town to benefit seniors.

Town Supervisor Joe Landry said the process to prepare a plan and assemble a bid package takes time.

Blechienger interjected and joked, “but I like things done yesterday.”

Town officials said the new bus could arrive as early as Friday, Sept. 7.

Liz Orzel Kasper said getting the first bus to serve seniors was one of her first goals after being elected to the board nearly two decades ago. The town’s current bus, while mainly serving the seniors, is used for other town services, such as recreation programming and special events.

“This is great to be doing this,” Kasper said. “The old one is old and rattle and hopefully the new one will be much better.”

Landry said the town established a transportation committee to obtain recommendations from seniors, which were included in the bid specifications.

“They looked at policies about how the bus should operate for pickups and other things,” Landry said.

The bus will hold 20 passengers. To help lower the noise of the bus rattling, carpeting will be placed along the walls and floor inside the bus.

Another suggestion was to put an area to place coats and bags on the bus, so there will be an overhead shelf area for items. A public address system will also allow the bus driver to talk to passengers without shouting. Since it is a newer bus, it also will have mandated wheelchair accessibility.

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