Elmwood Park seniors get free bus service
Like Barrington, the Village of Elmwood Park also offers a Dial-A-Ride program using a PACE bus that picks up senior citizens at their home. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 21, 2013 2:37PM
ELMWOOD PARK — The village is making it easier for people to get around town with the creation of Dial-A-Ride Program.
The village recently purchased a small PACE bus to use for the program. Dial-A-Ride offers free rides to village residents who are 65 years old or older and to residents with disabilities or special needs.
Those meeting the criteria must dial 24 hours in advance to make an appointment. Local restaurants, downtown Oak Park, Gottlieb Hospital and local shopping malls are among the places village residents already have been able to get to, thanks to the program.
Others have been able to use it for some much-needed chores.
Jeanne Zarillo, 69, needed to do some laundry last week, so she called the day before and the bus was ready to pick her up at 9:30 a.m. Friday to take her to the laundromat.
Sam Parrilli, who drives the bus, helped her with the heavy blue laundry bag as she boarded the bus.
She said she heard about the program, got the number and decided to call. “I love that the village is doing this,” she said.
On the ride there, she reminisces about meeting her husband on a bus.
He was the bus driver.
“My husband worked for PACE and he traveled a million miles without an accident,” she said. “We were married 40 years before he died.”
Zarillo remains active and likes the program because she feels more independent. “There are people who will do things for me, but it’s nice to have a backup plan and heck of a lot easier,” she said.
Helga Preston took advantage of the free ride that Friday because she wanted to do some shopping and needed a ride to the grocery store.
“It’s a lovely bus,” she said. “It’s very new. I believe it will become quite popular.”
Parilli said he’s been out giving people rides for a little over a week, but the majority of his time has been making people aware of the program.
“So far so good,” he said. “My mornings have been really busy.”
The program offers round trip rides and the bus is available Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 12 p.m., and Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Parrilli said once the weather gets a little colder or the word spreads about the free service he’ll be even busier.
Preston is unable to drive and she appreciates the service.
“This is like a gift from God,” she said. “I have a feeling the seniors are really going to like this.”
Parrilli said he’s heard nothing but good things from the people he’s picked up so far.
“They are happy they have a system like this,” he said. “They’ve never had something like this before.”
For more information or to make an appointment for a ride call 708-452-7300. Appointments must be made 24 hours in advance.