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AARP members soften ride for West View trolley patrons

| Thursday, April 10, 2008

Riding the West View Senior Trolley helps Dot McCleary get out to do some shopping.

But at times, it can be a real pain.

"These have to be the world's most uncomfortable seats," McCleary, 86, of West View said of the benches on the borough's classic-styled trolley that totes seniors around area shopping districts twice a week. "It just bangs you all around. (The trolley) is great for the borough, but it can hurt."

Along with several other members of the West View AARP, McCleary helped remedy that problem with 11 seat cushions to make the ride more pleasant.

The group wanted to do something to give back to the borough, said Gwen Larner, 79, of West View, the organization's secretary. After complaints from several members who regularly ride the trolley, she appealed to the rest of the AARP group to see if there was something they could do.

"Two of the ladies said the seats were so hard they had trouble getting up, their backs hurt so bad," Larner said. "They (borough officials) always do things for us, so we wanted to do something for them."

Larner's son, Keith, came up with a simple design, and several women got together to sew the black, quilted seat covers. The AARP covered the cost of the material and installed the pads, costing West View nothing.

Borough officials were thrilled with the group's effort. The trolley has been an important program that the borough continues to try to improve, said Mary Kay Bernhard, council president.

"I thought it was awesome, since people don't always do things for their townships or boroughs any more," Bernhard said. "They came forward to do this on their own. I thought that was very important."

The trolley runs twice a week, transporting seniors to shopping centers both in West View and along McKnight Road in Ross. Ridership has fallen over the years, Bernhard said, causing the trolley to change its schedule to just two days each week from three. She and the AARP members hope the new seat cushions help change that.

"Being a lifelong West View resident, you see the role the trolley plays," said Keith Larner. "A lot of seniors utilize it, and yeah, the seats were kind of uncomfortable. Maybe now we can see more seniors get out and about without worrying if their back is going to hurt."

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