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Nov 7, 2012 12:00 PM

Sun Tran offers free bus training for seniors and riders with disabilities

TUCSON - Ralph Mears boards the bus everyday and brings his walker along for the ride.

"It's pretty easy, some buses have the ramps and some have the lifts where the stairs come out," Mears says.

But for new riders with disabilities, or senior citizens, the thought of boarding the bus can be a hassle, even intimidating. "Imagine if you're in a mobility device such as a power wheel chair, or maybe you use a cane," says Michele Joseph of Sun Tran.

The START program, which stands for Sun Tran Accessible Riding Training, gives those riders tips to ease their anxiety. "Once you learn it's very easy," Joseph says. "We have a lot of people that rely on our system every day, we have about 70,000 trips."

The training sessions go over how to understand route maps and schedules, trip planning, transfers, how to pay a fare and how to use Sun Tran's website.

People who attend will also get a first-hand experience riding the bus. "We bring out a driver, a customer service representative and a bus to the training location and after the people go through the class, they can step on the bus and learn how to board and pay their fare," Joseph says.

A training session will be held Thursday, November 8, from 10am to noon at the Sun Van Service Area at 3401 E. Ajo Way.

For specific Sun Tran bus information and trip planning assistance, consult the Sun Tran's Ride Guide, visit www.suntran.com, or call Sun Tran's Customer Service Center at (520) 792-9222 (for persons with hearing and speech impairments with TDD equipment, call 520-628-1565). The Customer Service Center is open weekdays from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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