New driver Laurie Cormier and fleet co-ordinator Bruce Cucco look over the Cumberland County Transportation Society’s new vehicle that will allow it to expand its service to more residents whose personal circumstances make it difficult to secure transportation.
AMHERST – New funding has paved the way for an expansion that will break transportation barriers for Cumberland residents.
The Cumberland County Transportation Service is passing benefits received as part of the provincial Sustainable Transportation Strategy on to Cumberland residents in underserviced areas. The non-profit community-run service has expanded its operation, opening more seats for those Cumberland residents whose personal circumstances and location make it difficult for them to secure transportation.
“We’ve received funding grants through both the NS Moves initiative and Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations which have enabled us to hire another driver for a year and purchase a fourth vehicle,” operations manager Susan Belliveau commented.
She indicated the service now has three low-capacity accessible vehicles (five-passenger vans) and one medium capacity accessible bus (12 to 14 passengers) and has also changed the way its fares are calculated in an effort to establish a local rate in communities outside of Amherst.
Effective immediately, rates are based only on the kilometres travelled between the point of pick-up and the destination.
“Prior to this all fares were based out of Amherst, where the vehicles are stationed,” Belliveau explained. “So if someone, in Pugwash for example, had to make a trip within that community they still had to pay for us to bring the vehicle from Amherst which costs $25 round trip. Now that fee has been waived so if the same person needs to travel within their home community they are only paying the rate from the address they are actually picked up at to their destination address.”
She further explained trips within a 10km radius are $7 round trip. This has always been the case for Amherst residents, but not for those who live in other communities because of the added cost of transporting the vehicle from Amherst.
Peter Lewis and Dave McClelland who are both original CCTS Society Board members have long expressed a desire to see this change made.
Lewis, who resides in Pugwash, commented, “Rates being based from the point of departure is the realization of a desire to have equitable, accessible service at a reasonable cost for all of the County.”
“Ultimately, if it turns out there is a high demand we could end up stationing a vehicle between Pugwash and Oxford for part of the week and between Parrsboro and Springhill the other part of the week,” Belliveau said. “This would enable us to better service these areas without over extending ourselves by constantly eating the cost to travel from Amherst.”
CCTS does not travel a pre-determined route, but instead provides door-to-door rides for those who book at least 24-hours in advance. However, even with the new vehicle and new driver, space is still limited so Belliveau advises those who wish to utilize the service to call as early as possible. She also noted the rides are booked based on priority with top priority given to those with the greatest need as in the case of wheelchair users and those with medical appointments.