Get On the Bus

Woman boarding a bus
Because of their close proximity to downtown Madison, residents of both campuses enjoy Oakwood bus transport to many quintessential Madison events.

In 2018, an informal poll of waiting list members for the University Woods campus asked recipients to choose which amenities were most important to them. The number one answer, selected by 85% of respondents? Transportation. Fortunately for them, Oakwood takes resident transportation seriously.

Between the two campuses, Oakwood has four shuttle buses. The Life Enrichment department on each campus manages the transportation schedule as well as plans numerous outings.

A regular fixture of each month's Life Enrichment calendar are the shopping trips that each campus offers three times per week. Destinations include nearby shopping malls, grocery stores (including Pick 'n Save, Costco and Trader Joe’s), and big-box stores like Target or Walmart. Taking an Oakwood bus trip not only saves residents the time and hassle of driving and parking, but the buses pick up and drop off residents right at the entrance of their building. Drivers may even help with getting carts and loading bags. It’s not just residents who don't drive who take the bus — many residents choose to take the bus because of the convenience.

“Once people use the bus the first time, then they do it again. They realize how easy it is.”

More than Shopping

Because of Oakwood’s close proximity to downtown Madison, residents of both campuses enjoy bus transport to many quintessential Madison events. While there’s plenty to do on the Oakwood campus itself, keeping connected in the community remains critical to residents. The Oakwood shuttles provide that connection, and residents appreciate the door-to-door service that comes with bus rides to popular Madison-area events.

“Any concert — especially in the parks, like the Rennebohm Park series — is very popular,” shares Liz Gade-Schara, Life Enrichment Supervisor at Prairie Ridge. “The lectures and documentary series at public libraries and the Wisconsin Historical Museum are a big draw.” Steph Burris, Director of Life Enrichment at University Woods, adds that UW Women’s Hockey games always have full buses, and the Madison Symphony is a huge atrraction.

With wellness a priority for residents, both Prairie Ridge and University Woods provide bus transportation to nearby pools for residents to swim. Prairie Ridge residents can take the six-minute drive to The American Center for warm water classes and swimming, while University Woods residents enjoy an even shorter commute to the UW Aquatic Center at Research Park.

Oakwood's busses also take residents to local culinary hot spots. Prairie Ridge does a monthly ‘Dinner on the Town’ that brings residents to area restaurants. University Woods has them more frequently, doing between four and eight per month.

Transportation Stats

  • Each campus has the capacity to fit about 40 residents between the two buses
  • 2 Oakwood buses per campus
  • 2+ out-of-town bus trips per week
  • 60+ residents ride the bus in a given week
  • 6 bus drivers on the University Woods campus
  • Shopping trips are offered 3 times per week at each campus
  • More than 64 off-campus trips were offered at Prairie Ridge during summer 2019 (not including grocery/store trips)
Women riding a bus

“Probably 50% of the trip suggestions I receive are for restaurants in the Madison area” says Bob Loeffler, the Transportation Supervisor at University Woods. Bob keeps record of all of the restaurants they visit, with information such as price ranges, which credit cards they take, and how accessible a place is, which helps residents decide if it’s something they’re interested in.

Other regular trips include plays at the Fireside Theater in Fort Atkinson, and Concerts on the Square. Residents sign up in advance for bus trips, which allows Life Enrichment to plan how many buses are needed. Bob does all of the planning for bus trips at University Woods.

“I look on the internet, the news, and different publications to find ideas for new outings,” Bob says. “We also have a suggestion box by the sign up area. Everything we do is something a resident has suggested,” he adds.

In addition to trips in the Madison area, day trips are a very popular outing. “I get charter buses for about 30 residents, and we’ve gone to LaCrosse, Kohler, Rockford, and Milwaukee for Brewers’ games. We do 8-12 charter bus trips during a summer,” says Liz. Many charter bus trips take residents from both campuses. Liz shares, “I get the opportunity to learn a lot about residents on the longer trips — even unusual facts! I recently learned that a resident’s grandfather and grandmother were magicians on a paddlewheel boat in the late 1800s.”

“I have a lot of people tell me ‘I saw the Oakwood bus at (you name an event)!’” says Steph, “and I love that. I think it sets Oakwood apart, because I don’t see a lot of other transportation at the big events around town.”

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