“You Never Stop Learning”: Bus Trips are an Affordable Treat for Older Adults 

Three women in winter coats stand under a lofty ceiling of steep white ribs with a narrow skylight at the center

It was the first day of Spring, but apparently nobody had told the weather. The long, low contours of the Irish Hunger Memorial were acting as a wind tunnel, channeling freezing blasts of air off the Hudson River. Still, the little group of visitors from our Older Adult Center walked all around the site, lingering over the inscriptions and examining the landscape. 

“The soil, stones and native vegetation are from Ireland—and there’s a stone from every county,” Aurea Garcia told the group, reading from her phone. “That’s cool.” 

The excursion was one of four bus trips that run every week from the Older Adult Center—once a day from Monday through Thursday. Sometimes the outings go to museums and historical sites; on other days they head to affordable shopping destinations like Costco and Dollar Tree. The little white bus is wheelchair-accessible; it holds a maximum of twelve people and the only cost for passengers is a $2 suggested donation.  

Garcia has come on several trips, mostly to museums—including her favorite, the Cooper-Hewitt. “The groups are small and I like that because you can talk to people,” she said. “It’s a learning experience. You never stop learning.”  

After the Hunger Memorial the group headed to the Oculus, the flashy transportation center and high-end mall at the former World Trade Center site. The women admired the building’s architecture—its soaring white ribs are meant to be “symbolic of a hand releasing a dove”—and did a little window-shopping before getting back on the bus. 

“The biggest purpose of the bus trips is to provide opportunities for the older adults to go to places they otherwise wouldn’t,” said Older Adult Center Director Jemma Marens. The second-biggest, she explained, is shopping support—giving people a chance to get staples like food and clothing for less than they would spend in Manhattan. 

It’s all part of supporting aging with dignity, Marens said. 

“People should be able to treat themselves and enjoy themselves,” she said. “These trips allow older adults do that without breaking the bank.”