AMHERST - Just a few months after hitting the road for the first time, Cumberland County's fledgling transportation service is exceeding expectations.
"Ridership is excellent and is increasing monthly," Cumberland County Transportation Service manager Tammara Ashe said after speaking to members of the Amherst Rotary Club on Monday.
"We are serving all areas of Cumberland County from Parrsboro, Springhill and Pugwash, and the areas in between."
CCTS provides a quality inclusive transportation service to all residents of the county facing transportation barriers. It ensures people with disabilities, seniors, low income families and all transportation-disadvantaged residents have access to equal opportunities to transportation services.
Since starting with one 14-passenger van in February, the organization has added another six-passenger mini-van and has provided drives for 440 people, with fares ranging from $5 to $30 depending on distance.
On Tuesdays, the service makes runs to Amherst, Pugwash, Oxford, Springhill and surrounding areas, while on Thursdays it makes runs to Amherst, Maccan, Parrsboro, Advocate and surrounding areas.
To use the bus, people can call 667-8149 or toll-free 1-877-305-7433 at least 24 hours in advance to book a ride on the bus.
"We have exceeded expectations in terms of ridership and we're always looking two or three years down the road. Things are growing at a steady pace and we like the direction things are going," Ashe said. "Much of our success is a result of the message that's getting out mostly by word of mouth. It's accessible, it's affordable and reliable, the drivers we have are excellent and the people appreciate what we're doing."
Steve LeBlanc said his mentally-challenged daughter uses the bus on a regular basis.
"She really enjoys using the service as opposed to taking the taxi," LeBlanc said. "A lot of people like her have a lot of anxiety getting into a taxi with someone she doesn't know. She feels much more comfortable using this service."
The buses also make runs on off days depending on demand and the bus is available for charters within the county.
Ashe stressed CCTS is community owned and operated, and consists of a team of dedicated volunteers from the drivers themselves, to dispatchers and fundraisers.
As demand grows and in hopes of becoming more cost effective, Ashe sees the service expanding to include a larger fleet with buses more spread out across the county.
It's also doing a lot of promotion and marketing to showcase the service and overcome the stigma that the service is only for those in a wheelchair. The service, she stressed, is for anyone who needs it.