Category Archives: Manager’s Musings -John Keith

Manager’s musings on public transit

TROUT Public Transit looks back at 2013 with mixed feelings

TROUT Rural Public TransitWe at TROUT Public Transit look back on 2013 with mixed feelings. We are thankful for the visionaries who support public transportation in our community – the municipal politicians, business owners, and others who know the value of public transportation for our non-driving friends and neighbours and for economic growth. They know that public transportation is a key component of sustainability for rural communities.

We are proud that rural communities throughout North America look to Trout Public Transit for counsel and inspiration for their public transportation initiatives. And we are deeply grateful to the Province of Ontario and Community Care North Hastings for their support and encouragement.

However, we have much work to do. We receive no support from the County of Hastings (future historians may be curious about that) and no support, or only token support, from seven of the eight municipalities we served last year.

Thank you to the Municipality of Highlands East in Haliburton County for your full support in 2013. We look forward to nurturing our relationship with you to address your public transportation needs.

Looking ahead, TROUT Public Transit remains committed to helping people in North Hastings and Highlands East access the goods and services they need to live with independence and dignity in our community.

Also, we will be seeking expanded support from local municipalities and the business community for the economic growth and development potential that a public transportation service offers. The extent of that support will dictate our direction in 2014 and beyond.

John Keith,  MA

Manager, Transportation Services

 

Rural Ontario Municipalities Curious About Public Transportation

rural public transitSomebody out there sees the value of public transportation service in rural Ontario communities. And that’s encouraging.

Rural municipalities are beginning to see that public transportation boosts local economies by connecting people to goods, services, and jobs, with a benefit-to-cost ratio of more than 3 to 1 for rural communities not uncommon.

They’re noting that public transportation is of vital importance for attracting prospective new residents – ranked second, right behind adequate healthcare.

And, they are becoming more sensitive to the requirements of their non-driving ratepayers. Public transportation fosters independence and dignity, and it enriches quality of life by providing social and cultural opportunities otherwise restricted to some of their friends and neighbours.

I’ve been invited by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to conduct a presentation on rural public transportation at the Ontario East Municipal Conference in Kingston on Thursday, September 12.

It will be interesting to see how many folks pop in for the hour-long session and what their backgrounds and interests are.

As a former educator, I cannot help but inject an interactive component into the get together to TROUT PASSENGERS 001bring out some ideas and perceptions about providing public transportation for an increasing number of non-drivers in rural Ontario communities.

We will discuss benefits of rural public transportation.  We’ll identify barriers, with cost right up there at the top of the list, I expect.  And we’ll look at ways to address barriers.

I will also provide participants with a brief overview of the TROUT Transit operation, and offer some insights based on research and my experiences as manager of a rural public transportation service.

TROUT Public Transit is in its fourth year of operation serving seven municipalities in rural Hastings County and one municipality in the County of Haliburton. Ridership increased 24% in the last fiscal year, and the need for public transportation in our communities continues to rise.

Hats off to rural Ontario municipalities for their curiosity about public transportation. It’s the first step toward evolving local transportation infrastructures to meet the needs of increasing numbers of non-driving ratepayers,  grow local economies, and contribute to a sustainable future.

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TROUT PUBLIC TRANSIT CONTRIBUTION TO LOCAL SUSTAINABILITY

 The Rural Overland Utility Transit (TROUT) Public Transit Service is proud to play a prominent role in the sustainability of our regional community. We provide transportation service to seven municipalities in the north half of Hastings County and one municipality in the County of Haliburton, in a sparsely populated area of Southeastern Ontario.

The Town of Bancroft, Ontario, goods and services hub of the region, has undertaken a sustainability initiative, striking a Committee of Council to define sustainability concepts, explore avenues of sustainability, and plan for a better future.

The Committee states that, “Sustainable Bancroft is about sharing a common purpose: sustaining a community where people thrive and enjoy a good quality of life.”

A comprehensive report titled, Sustainable Bancroft: An Integrated Community Sustainability Plan sustainable-bancroft-logo-webfor Bancroft, Ontario, was prepared to serve as a guide.  The plan identifies four “pillars of sustainability” – Economic, Environmental, Social, and Cultural – that contribute to the growth, health, and wellbeing of a thriving community. The report identifies transportation as “a core component of a sustainable community,” and TROUT Public Transit addresses all four sustainability pillars.

From an economic standpoint, public transit supports the local economy by connecting riders with goods and services. The TROUT connects riders to 95 percent of Bancroft businesses. Further, our public transit service provides local jobs for bus drivers and administration staff, and contributes dollars to local businesses for bus maintenance, fuel, media promotion and a host of other expenditures.

Environmentally, public transit conserves fuel and limits harmful emissions into the atmosphere by transporting groups of people in one vehicle, a green alternative to personal vehicle transportation.

From a social perspective, public transit facilitates social interaction among bus riders, allowing them to meet and greet others on the bus and in the stores. TROUT Transit Operators are aware of, and sensitive to, the social and mental health benefits of social interaction and actively encourage, and engage in, conversation and fellowship on the bus.

And, finally, public transit supports the cultural pillar of sustainability by affording non-driving residents access to cultural events and activities.

The TROUT is an active and enthusiastic participant in the sustainability of our community. We are committed to embracing our culture, promoting our economy, protecting our environment, and enhancing the social wellbeing of our citizens with safe, comfortable, and affordable transportation.

Author: John Keith, Manager of Transportation Services

TROUT Unique Public Transit Service Mix

Centred in Bancroft, Ontario, The Rural Overland Utility Transit (affectionately known as the TROUT), offers a unique four-component fully accessible public transit service in seven municipalities comprising the north half of Hastings County, and one Haliburton County municipality in a sparsely populated rural region of Southeastern Ontario.

Among challenges the TROUT faces are its large service area and small population base. The permanent population in the region is only 15,000, and the area served is 3380 km2, about two-thirds the size of Prince Edward Island. That’s an average population density of only 4.4 people per km2, requiring creative service strategies to accommodate the ridership base.

Therefore, the TROUT employs a four-part public transit service mix to meet its demographic and geographic challenges.  We call it “TROUT Blended Flex Public Transit Service.” Continue reading

Who Funds Public Transit

TROUTOct2012 018Addressing frequently asked questions about public transit, a public transit advocacy group recently asked and answered the question, “Who funds public transit?”

The London Ontario group, LTC Bus People stated that “although provincial and federal governments provide tax credits and sometimes grants for public transit, the ongoing funding of a transit system is the responsibility of municipal governments.”

Unfortunately, not all municipalities see it that way. After all, public transit costs money, and that cuts into already tight municipal budgets. Road maintenance alone in our rural region in Southeastern Ontario is a huge drain, and municipalities are constantly complaining about being saddled with services dumped on them by the province. Continue reading