From left, drivers Ellen Phifer and Dale Smith pose with Director Mari Guevara alongside the all-new Humble Senior Van.

Although the Humble Senior Activity Center has been providing bus rides to seniors for 20 years, it is in times like these where public service proves itself to be beneficial for those who are at a disadvantage.

The Senior Center has recently acquired an all-new van and has continually provided transportation services for local senior citizens aged 55 and up. Senior Center Director Mari Guevara is enthusiastic about the new van, stating, “We have the capacity to seat 10 at a time plus a driver under normal circumstances.” She adds, “we provide an entirely free service to senior citizens who reside within the City of Humble. Under normal circumstances, we provide one ride per person per day [meaning that one can travel to any destination nearby and back].”

According to Guevara, the bus service was started by former City Manager Darrell Boeske and her predecessor, Carolyn Coats (former director of the senior center).

Bus rides are provided daily from Monday-Friday and hours of operation extend from 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. In Guevara’s words, a “cab-style service” is provided; drivers dispatch to the locations of any senior citizens within Humble as needed.

The recent fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic might have changed operations but did not impede upon the Senior Center’s ability to dispatch essential rides.

“The service was never interrupted. We were forced to minimize the extent of our riders’ trips to doctor’s appointments and pharmacy trips, as well as grocery shopping. At one point in time, we had to modify our hours because Target was providing special shopping hours to seniors. Overall, we wanted to continue to provide essential services to anyone who needed them,” said Guevara.

There are several steps that drivers and riders are being forced to take due to the pandemic.

“We require our drivers and all riders to wear a mask at all times in order to help keep everyone safe. Although we have the capacity to seat 10 riders, we have been forced to lower capacity in order to accommodate social distancing guidelines,” Guevara said. “Now, we have resumed some recreational trips such as including destinations like the barber shop, but we are still primarily focusing on essential services.”

The service would be impossible to maintain if it were not for the drivers, Guevara explained. Ellen Phifer, Dale Smith and Carol Wheeler have driven for 17, 8 and 3 years, respectively. Their service allows senior citizens to be able to receive easy access to essential services. This contribution becomes even more important during times of need such as these.

For those over the age of 55 living in Humble who wish to request a senior ride, the process is simple. One can register and make an appointment with the Senior Center by calling Guevara at 281-540-7442.

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