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Old Santa Monica Bus to Help Paralyzed Children

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By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

January 3, 2014 -- One of Santa Monica’s old diesel buses will get a new life this year after being donated to a local nonprofit that specializes in helping paralyzed children.

The Beverly Hill-based When U Dream a Dream, Inc. will get a 40-foot New Flyer bus, recently retired by Big Blue Bus (BBB), and turn it into a mobile computer lab for paralyzed children and teens.

“One of the core tenets of the (When U Dream a Dream) program is teaching independence and independent living,” said Suja Lowenthal, BBB’s Transit Government & Community Relations manager.

The mobile computer lab would be used to “educate children about community services available and how they can use public transportation services as a paralyzed person,” according to BBB officials.

When U Dream a Dream also plans to use the bus, which BBB acquired in 1997, to “transport paralyzed children to destinations including, but not limited to musical concerts, sporting events and television shows,” officials said.

The bus, officials said, was retired in October because it had reached the end of its “useful life cycle.”

BBB maintains a policy of replacing busses every 12 years or so because that’s when it becomes “cost prohibitive to maintain these vehicles as they require more parts and labor to keep them in operation,” officials said.

That won’t be the case for an organization like When U Dream a Dream since it won’t be required to maintain the bus to the same standards required of a public transit agency like BBB, Lowenthal said.

According to BBB officials, When U Dream a Dream does have plans to turn the diesel bus -- worth almost $3,000 -- into an electric or a hybrid vehicle.

BBB won’t be the first transit agency to work with the nonprofit.

Since it was founded in 2002, When U Dream a Dream has also worked with Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and Orange County Transportation Authority, BBB officials said.

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