AMHERST - Chris Bradford has been given a new sense of independence since the Cumberland County Transportation Society began operating earlier this year and he was on hand Friday when the organization launched its second vehicle.
With a $19,900 grant from the federal government and a $20,000 grant from the province, the transportation society has purchased a new seven-passenger minivan to supplement a 14-passenger mini-bus that has been providing transportation services around Cumberland County since the spring.
"I love it. I use it all the time," said Bradford, who was born with spina bifida and uses the transportation service to get to his jobs at Zellers and the Cumberland County Museum. "It takes me where I need to go."
Bradford's father, John, said Chris uses the service to go bowling on Mondays and to work on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
"He is using it a lot," said John, adding he and his wife Evelyn would have to drive him to where he needed to go or use Your Cab, which also has accessible taxis.
"It has made it a lot easier on everyone. When that van pulls in the yard, he's out the door and we don't have to worry about him. He's in good hands."
The transportation service is a community-run organization that got its start from the Healthy Parrsboro and Area community health board and eventually became a countywide project.
While it has been a welcome addition for those with accessibility issues, the service is for everyone to use.
"Although we had a tough run of luck caused by weather in February, things have really taken off. In fact, CCTS has serviced more than 900 paid fares and is currently growing at a rate of 44 per cent on a monthly average," society vice-chair Bruce Cuco said.
The second van, he said, will give the society the ability to expand its service and serve more people in different areas of the county. It will also help the society continue to build a comprehensive transportation service for rural Nova Scotia.
New Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MP Scott Armstrong said accessible transportation is important to rural development.
"More than ever before, dependable, accessible public transportation is an essential element for maintaining sustainable, healthy and economically prosperous communities," Armstrong said.
Cumberland North MLA Brian Skabar said the van will help get people to where they need to go and help sustain communities.
"Having access to transportation will provide many benefits to this area in providing a safe and convenient way for residents to get around, whether it's a drive to work, to school, a doctor's appointment or shopping," Skabar said.