By Scott Costen
Advocates of a door-to-door public transit service for Queens County made their pitch to council yesterday morning.
“It’s a good, strong, realistic plan,” said John Murray of the Queens Care Society, which spent the past four years studying the issue and working with partners to make local public transit a reality.
The proposed system would provide “reliable, safe, accessible and affordable service” from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.
It would be available to residents throughout Queens County and take them to local destinations for medical appointments, general errands and social events. Transportation for medical appointments in Bridgewater, Halifax, Kentville and Yarmouth would also be available.
Riders would pay up to $10 per trip, depending on their destination. “(But) nobody will be refused because they can’t afford it,” Murray said.
In the first two years, trips would be provided in a used nine-passenger van purchased from another community transit service. Staff would include a dispatcher, driver and program manager with an expected annual budget between $125,000 and $150,000.
The non-profit service could generate revenue through contracts with local organizations, presenters told council.
“Our three-year business plan, which has just been finalized, has been approved by the province,” said consultant Sheila Bird.
Queens Care Society has handed over the project to the newly formed Queens Transportation Working Group (QTWG), which has elected its first board or directors and been listed on the province’s Registry of Joint Stock Companies. It is expected the group will seek charitable status in the future.
Queens County is one of the last areas in Nova Scotia without a transit service, something Murray called “important infrastructure” for rural communities.
Region of Queens Municipality’s support of the program — both financial and “in kind” — is a “critical success factor” for the project, presenters told council.
The region was asked to contribute core funding of $15,750 in year one, $22,000 in year two and $26,000 in year three. It was also asked to provide ongoing “in kind” donations of office space, equipment and supplies, as well as staff support to the QTWG board and grants to organizations on a “per project basis.”
Region of Queens staff are expected to study the transit proposal and report back to council.
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