With only two drivers and two buses on call, the demand is always high.
"With our growing senior population in the town, it becomes very important to make sure we have safe buses out there," said Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner. "It's not easy for our seniors and the disabled to get around. The buses provide the lifeline to those who can't get around, who don't drive. We always try to keep two buses operational."
However, with all the wear and tear that the buses endure with the daily use, they tend to break down after a while. Considering that the Weehawken Housing Authority hadn't purchased a new bus in nearly eight years, the time had come to get a new one.
There's only one catch. The federal department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides a grant of $130,000 annually to Weehawken, which is supposed to cover all improvements and maintenance costs.
"It's very expensive to take $50,000 of the grant and put it to one purchase," said Robert DiVincent, the executive director of the Weehawken Housing Authority. "But the purchase of a new bus was part of the Housing Authority's capital fund program. It was needed. The bus serves a tremendous purpose."
With that, a new 20-passenger bus was purchased two weeks ago and the Housing Authority wasted little time in getting the new purchase into the regular rotation. The new bus features access for four wheelchairs and has removable chairs in order to get more wheelchairs on if necessary.
"Considering the population of the town, not just the seniors at 525 Gregory Ave., but the seniors throughout the town that use the bus, it was more than a necessity," DiVincent said. "It's a much needed service. The seniors all depend upon the bus. The bus takes the seniors to the stores, to the doctor, on their runs. The bus gets them out of their homes. A lot takes place for the seniors. It's not just the bus. It's part of the community."
DiVincent said that each bus has a 10-year life expectancy, so it was time for the old bus to be replaced.
"As soon as we got the new one, it went out the next week," DiVincent said. "As soon as we got it, it went out."
Turner said that he was happy to continue working hand-in-hand with the Housing Authority in terms of combining services.
"The township picks up the cost of one driver and half of the other," Turner said. "The Housing Authority picks up the cost of the other driver and the maintenance of the buses with the grant from HUD. Every so often, money is put aside to purchase a new bus. This is one of those times. We have a good balance between the township and the Housing Authority."