The Sage Connection

From car keys to a Bus Buddy


One of the hardest things’ seniors have to give up in life is our car keys. With the loss of these, goes our freedom, independence and life as we know it.

Either we now have to budget for Uber, Lift or a taxi -- or we stay home. Our children may live far away or work full-time. Neighbors and friends may not be going to the store we need this week – and who wants to be the one always asking for a ride anyway?

Well, help is the on the way: Meet the folks that make the Intercity Transit Bus Buddy Program possible.

Bus Buddy Volunteers are very familiar with bus routes, how and where to make transfers and will stay with you for the entire trip there and home again. They will go with you each time you go until you become comfortable enough to do it on your own. And if that doesn’t happen, they will continue to travel with you each time you go.

Nor are you limited to medical or grocery trips. Your Bus Buddy will go anywhere the bus goes.

Normally you have to be able to get yourself to the bus stop; however, if you live within a couple of blocks, your Bus Buddy can drive to your home and walk with you to the bus stop.

Volunteer Marilyn Scott is the Bus Buddy # 1 volunteer, and has been with the program since it began in 2014. She began riding the bus 8 years before that. Marilyn loves to take folks on bus trips to Tacoma, Seattle, the Puyallup Fair, shopping trips and sightseeing. Need to go the SeaTac Airport to catch a plane or meet someone? No problem. Marilyn was a school bus driver for 17 years and enjoys making new friends on trips.

Bus Buddy JoAnn Scott (no relation to Marilyn) has been with the program since 2019 and has been riding the bus for 45+ years. She is willing to go almost anywhere with her clients.

One of their clients, Jonathon Yost, is a senior gentleman who is a member of Schoengarth’s’ 40 member + entertainment/singing group, the Entertainment Explosion. He has a wonderful voice and is a great addition to the group but can no longer drive. His father drove him to the concerts for a while, but he was often late. Now, with his Bus Buddy he is always on time and raring to go at show time.

COVID-19 affected this vital program and it was unavailable for seven months this year, but it came back in November. The transportation agency tells us they are hopeful 2021 will see more clients taking advantage of this transportation option.

There is no charge for a Bus Buddy – all that is needed is bus fare. There is no age limit and this service is available to anyone, with an emphasis on the unique travel needs of seniors, youth, people living with disabilities and people living on fixed incomes.

While donations are accepted, the Bus Buddy program is a grant-funded program and partnership between Catholic Community Services, the Washington State Dept. of Transportation, Volunteer Services and Intercity Transit.

Volunteers are always welcome and are trained to travel with bus riders to their destinations. They ask that you allow a 72-hour notice for trips in Thurston County and three-to-five business days for out of county trips.

Scott Schoengarth is the Bus Buddy Coordinator for Intercity Transit and has an extensive background in marketing and communications. He retired for a year before returning to the workforce to run this program in 2016. His goal is simple – to spread the Bus Buddy story to as many folks as possible so those who could use a little help will know there are volunteers out there ready to lend a helping hand.

If you would like to reserve a Bus Buddy or learn more about volunteer possibilities contact Scott Schoengarth at 360-688-8832 or email him at

Kathleen Anderson writes this column each week.  Contact her at or post your comment below. 


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here