CT Pilots Present at OGRA Conference

Date: February 28, 2018

The Challenge of Change was the theme of this year’s Ontario Good Roads Association conference, so a session on Community Transportation (CT) fit in well. Delegates had a chance to hear about Building Effective Rural Transportation Options from a couple of municipalities in the province, as representatives from the CT Pilot Program projects in Lennox & Addington County (the Greater Napanee area and beyond) and the Town of Pelham (Niagara Region) presented on their initiatives.

Lennox and Addington County, with the support of a local community service agency, currently runs a centralized transportation dispatch system called, Trans Hub. Thanks to the CT Pilot Program, they were able to expand their existing transportation service. The Trans Hub service is operated by Lennox & Addington Seniors Outreach Service (L&A SOS), and now provides service to 8 additional agencies: L&A Mental Health & Addictions Services, Napanee Area Community Health Centre, Prince Edward and L&A Social Services, Interval House, Hospice, L&A County Hospital, Home & Community Care, and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). It is an affordable service able to all age groups.

Affordable and reliable transportation is a necessity for the senior and other populations in the region, so the Trans Hub has access to more than 50 volunteer drivers and owns two wheelchair accessible vans. A staff person was hired to dispatch rides and recruit & train volunteer drivers throughout the county. Volunteers are screened for driving abilities and trained in aiding seniors. They service Greater Napanee, as well as local communities such as Bath, Tamworth, and Odessa. Fees vary based upon destination. Cost of the trip and any parking expenses (e.g., for medical appointments) are paid directly to the volunteer driver by the client on the day of travel, but calls need to be made at least 2 - 3 days in advance in order to book a driver.

There is also a town bus available which makes four loops through Napanee, transporting seniors to scheduled stops on Tuesdays & Fridays. Thanks to sponsorship from Jubilee Apartments, Lifeline Emergency Response, the Rotary Club and Shoppers Drug Mart, there is no fee for clients to use this service.

Pelham Transit works in partnership with a local school bus operator to provide an inter-municipal transportation service that connects Pelham residents to Niagara Regional Transit and GO Transit service, as well as to Niagara College in Welland, and Brock University in St. Catharines. The Pelham project is also working to increase the capacity for accessible door-to-door service, as Niagara Region Specialized Transit provides accessible trips from Pelham to destinations outside of Pelham. This has relieved the local social service agency, Pelham Cares, so that they can now provide more rides within Pelham itself as well as assist clients in applying for specialized services.

In 2015, the Town of Pelham revisited their Strategic Plan and determined that the development of a municipal transit system was one of the keys to realizing their goals. Prior to this time the Town had no municipal public transit service. This community transportation project has both increased the ability to meet local transportation demand and improved mobility options for individuals who did not have access to their own transportation, including seniors, people with disabilities, and students, among others. Pelham Transit now offers a transportation service that is fully accessible, equipped with a bike rack and designed with convenience in mind.

In its first year, about half of the transit's 1,400 riders were students. As a result, the Town was able to strike a deal with the local university and college to receive approximately $15,000 from their student union and student administrative council to continue to provide transportation during the following school term. In addition to the provision of conventional transit and a Trans Cab service, Pelham Transit also offers a special event shuttle, making it easier for residents to get out and enjoy all that the Town has to offer.