Plans to purchase of one bus by the Rocky View Regional Handibus Society turned into five, thanks to a $475,000 grant from Infrastructure Canada.

Paul Siller, the society's executive director is relieved he can now spread the word of their biggest-ever single bus purchase with the official announcement coming down the pipes yesterday. The buses have been in service since February and have improved their level of service and reliability while getting more drivers on the road.

"We've been having trouble adding staff because we didn't have any working buses. It's one thing to say we need more staff, but they have to be able to drive something. This has let us improve the number of service hours we can provide."

The new buses are Roadmasters that are fitted for wheelchair accessible transportation and can carry six to eight passengers.

The society had successfully raised enough funds to purchase one bus when the federal government announced a new Rural Transit Solutions Fund. They applied for the funding and 23 months later it was approved.

The process took longer than anticipated but the wait was well worthwhile.

"You can't peel the drivers fingers off the steering wheels, the passengers seem to be happy, and it's been a big help," says Siller.

He's now able to explain what happened to the donors for the first bus, which including the Totem Foundation, Cochrane Foundation, Inter Pipeline, TC Energy, and the Nickle Foundation. 

"They helped us raise the last $25,000 for that first bus, and now I get to tell them how for every $5,000 they gave us we managed to add another $20,000 to the project through this federal grant."

Siller says Rocky View County played a huge role by endorsing them as a municipal provider.

While this is a huge victory, there's not too much time to celebrate.

"We got five, we need three more and we have three that need to be replaced. We have to start the fundraising round again to get a few more buses."

Cochrane residents are the most active users of the service that is also available to residents in Rocky View, Chestermere, Crossfield, and Irricana.