Cumberland Transit given permission to grow

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To replace activity buses with two motor coaches

AMHERST – Cumberland Transit has been given permission to replace two of its buses with larger vehicles.

The decision was released by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board on Wednesday.

In its application, Cumberland Transit asked to replace two activity buses with a maximum seating capacity of 48 adults or 72 children) with two 56-passenger motor coaches.

The company is required to return to the board to set the rates.

Cumberland Transit submitted its application in December. Absolute Charters and Trius Tours Ltd. both objected to the application and a hearing was held Jan. 21.

In his testimony, president Robert Carter said he has had to respond to many challenges over his more than 30 years in the transportation business. At one time he had seven buses, when the company had a contract with the school board. Now he has two buses.

He said he needs the amendments because he wants to replace his two buses and said customers in his area want the more comfortable motor coach versus activity buses.

Motor coaches would allow the company to serve existing and past companies and organizations like the Amherst and Springhill, the Amherst Ramblers, Mount Allison University and Holy Family Parish.

Carter told the hearing Cumberland Transit needs to make the adjustment to survive.

Coach Atlantic said it opposes the application because there are already enough motor coaches on the highway and feels Cumberland Transit’s proposed rates are 20 per cent below the posted rates of both Absolute and Coach Atlantic.

Adam Doiron of Coach Atlantic said the rates are not sustainable for Cumberland Transit and suggested the company has not shown a business plan that includes the number of days it will be using the coaches and whether sufficient revenue can be generated from the rates to pay for the vehicles.

He fears Cumberland Transit will take work away from licensed carriers.

Doiron suggested Carter exchange his vehicles with semi-coaches. He suggested the company is seeking the amendments to make it more valuable for sale to another carrier.

Dennis Campbell of Absolute Charters said Cumberland Transit has not proven the need for additional highway coaches. He said his company’s winter business is very important and he suggested Cumberland Transit should start with seasonal, not year-round, motor coach licences.

Campbell also found Carter’s proposed rates to be too low.

He also said his company doesn’t charge deadhead rates (the cost of taking the bus to and from Amherst) to the Amherst Ramblers. It has placed a motorcoach in Amherst. Instead, he said, Absolute will only charge the deadhead kilometres once to take the vehicle to Amherst and once to take it back to Halifax.

In its decision, the board said Cumberland Transit is an established company that needs to replace two buses and is responding to customer demand for larger motor coaches. It said the fact Absolute placed and operated a highway motor coach in Amherst indicates there is a need for this type of transportation service in the area.

The decision said Cumberland Transit has letters of support from its present and past customers and does not feel granting the application will have a significant impact on either Absolute or Coach Atlantic.

The board also found Cumberland Transit to be providing transportation services in its area, but it’s a local business operating in the area and provides employment and participates in its community.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, Charters and Trius Tours, Mount Allison University

Geographic location: AMHERST, Halifax

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