Tribune Print Share Text

Driving force

Residents travel with ease thanks to Charlestown’s safe, friendly, affordable transportation

Created date

June 30th, 2016
Shuttle driver Edmond Davis welcomes resident Betty Durken.

Charlestown residents enjoy convenient, affordable transportation anywhere they want to go. Here, shuttle driver Edmond Davis welcomes resident Betty Durken.

When Betty and Joe Durken hop into the car, they never worry about finding a parking spot, fighting traffic, or finding their way. They simply sit back and enjoy the ride. 

Living at Charlestown, an Erickson Living community in Catonsville, Md., the Durkens have access to a variety of reliable and affordable transportation options as close as their front door.  

“We still have our car, but we figure it’s time to let someone else do the driving for us,” says Betty, who uses Charlestown’s private sedan service twice a week. “It’s wonderful! The transportation is one of my favorite things about living at Charlestown. We call it our private taxi service. We use it to go to church, doctors’ appointments, out to dinner, many different places.” 

Transportation Supervisor David Schuch oversees the community’s fleet of 50 vehicles, including 18 passenger cars and shuttle buses. Charlestown residents enjoy complimentary transportation anywhere on the 110-acre campus as well as within a designated distance to nearby grocery stores and the Post Office. For a nominal fee, residents can ride in comfort to local doctor’s offices, superstores like Wal-Mart, Columbia Mall, and downtown destinations like the Meyerhoff and Oriole Park at Camden Yards. 

Your personal chauffer

“We take residents wherever they want to go,” says Schuch, who started his career as a shuttle driver at Charlestown 25 years ago. “We operate 365 days a year from 5:30 a.m. until midnight.”

Charlestown’s convenient door-to-door service gives residents peace of mind in not having to travel alone at night or worry about driving in bad weather. 

“Our church is in South Baltimore,” says Betty. “We love using the car service because they drop us off right at the front door to the church, and they are there waiting for us as soon as we come out.” 

All Charlestown drivers are carefully screened for drugs and alcohol, and all bus drivers are professionally accredited with CDLs (commercial driver licenses). Aside from meeting the qualifications and safety requirements, Schuch handpicks the Charlestown transportation staff to ensure they are a good fit.

“It’s a team effort, that’s for sure,” says Schuch. “I can’t be here every hour of every day, so it’s imperative to have reliable people you can trust. It’s comforting for the residents to see a familiar face when they hop on the shuttle or use the car service. Our philosophy is really pretty simple: treat everyone like they are family, and everything will go just fine.”  

Betty says all of the drivers she has encountered have had a sunny disposition. “They are always so pleasant and polite—always laughing and joking,” she says.

Based on the findings from AAA’s (Automobile Association of America) “Your Driving Costs” study, Charlestown’s transportation could even help residents who no longer want the hassles of owning and maintaining their own car save thousands of dollars. 

The annual study analyzes the cost to own and operate a vehicle in the United States by factoring in operating costs such as fuel, maintenance and repair, and tires. According to the latest 2016 report, the average cost to own a sedan is $8,558, (based on 15,000 miles annually). 

Going the distance  

John Hanlon has relied on the transportation department for the last 16 years. 

“They do an outstanding job,” says John. “If you need to run over to pick something up from the grocery store, you can just hop on the shuttle. I use the car service to go to my doctors at Johns Hopkins and Mercy Medical Center downtown. They drop me off at the door and are always right on time picking me up. They really do a tremendous job.” 

Sally Pound no longer drives but says she’d prefer Charlestown’s transportation even if she did.  

“The staff is a great bunch of people. They are so kind, considerate, and patient,” says Sally. “They really bend over backward to accommodate you. I use the shuttle to go to the grocery store, and the drivers load and unload my bags. It’s cheaper than a cab. It’s such a wonderful service, and they run it so well.” 

Betty agrees. 

“Anything you want to do, you can do here, and the wonderful shuttle service will take you wherever you want or need to go,” says Betty. “I really think it’s a great way of life. It just can’t be beat. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”