Category Archives: Provincial 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.

Trout Rural Public Transit  005

Transportation woes mount for patients

Brenda Snider, executive director for Volunteer and Information Quinte, said her organization is struggling to assist people in need of transportation to medical appointments as current services are stretched to their limits for volunteer drivers and excessive fuel costs. The double whammy has seriously impacted people in need of rides to important appointments, said Snider.

“The core issue is that we’re seeing an increasing number of individuals requiring transportation services that do not fall into any particular category,” said Snider.

One such individual is the 78-year-old mother of high school teacher Debbie Clare , Elizabeth MacLeod, who must travel to Kingston for a medical appointment later this month. While Clare has been able to secure transportation for her wheelchair-bound mother, it was a long, drawn-out process.

“My mom’s had a stroke so she is basically a quadriplegic,” she explained. “She requires 24-hour care and she is at Hastings Manor.”

Last year, MacLeod developed a sore on her back that was determined to be cancerous and of such a size that a plastic surgeon would have to remove it. The doctor forwarded MacLeod to a Kingston-based surgeon who will perform the necessary procedure later next week.

While Clare said she was happy to finally have an appointment for her mother, she had no idea how difficult it would be to get her there.

“I assumed the Manor would take her, but they don’t do that. I phoned different local agencies that the Manor said would probably provide wheelchair transportation, but one told me I wasn’t in their geographic area, another said because she wasn’t registered as a client they couldn’t take her, another agency said their volunteers do drive cancer patients, but they aren’t wheelchair accessible … It just went on and on,” she said.

Even options such as taking a train or borrowing someone’s vehicle proved futile as time concerns and medical needs created constraints. Using either a wheelchair bus or wheelchair-accessible taxi were also investigated but prices between $500 and $700 for a round-trip to Kingston were too high.

“I just thought things were getting a little outrageous,” Clare said. “I literally called 15 or 20 people and I even went to our MPP’s office and they, eventually, put me in touch with an agency who is able to take her.”

Despite securing transportation for her mother, Clare said there is no reason people in need of transportation for medical appointments should have to face such an uphill struggle.

“It just continued to be six or seven days of a few hours on the telephone trying to get this done,” she said. “How do people in a wheelchair that don’t have their own vehicle survive? How can they get anything done? It was such an eye opener throughout the whole thing.”

Clare said as she continued to be bounced back and forth from agency to agency she questioned why there isn’t a better system in place to take care of people in need of such transportation.

“I just thought the whole thing was overwhelming,” she said.

It can be, Snider concurred.

Clare’s story, sadly, is not unusual. Snider said her agency receives between three to four calls each week with residents sharing similar stories. While there are agencies out there many can’t meet the demand and there is a large gap left where many people fall.

“There are a lot of people out there who don’t have the means or the finances to acquire needed transportation,” she said.

Snider explained many local residents often require medical care in Kingston and are forced to face the same battle Clare recently waged. However, even shorter trips such as travelling from Quinte West to Belleville can bring financial woes and hardships.

“It’s not that agencies don’t want to help, it’s that they can’t because they’re already overburdened,” she said. “Agencies have pulled together and have done what they need and what they can. It’s an issue that everybody knows is there but no one knows the solution.”

Snider, however, said there is a solution there if someone would step forward.

“The ideal solution would be if there was an organization that handled transportation for everyone,” she said. “But, who’s going to take that on and where does the funding come from?”

brice.mcvicar@sunmedia.ca

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

Provincial Public Transit:Wynne calls on business to help support public transit

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne speaks on transportation issues at the Toronto Region Board of Trade in Toronto on Monday. Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Business leaders must help shore up support for a contentious provincial plan to raise billions of dollars for public transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Monday.

People want to reduce congestion and get moving again, she said in a speech to the Toronto Region Board of Trade. But she needs help to “develop real momentum” for new investment in transit.

Measures like taxes or tolls to pay for transit are politically unpopular, which has stopped other governments from making those hard decisions, she acknowledged.

“Parties do polling, they don’t see easy answers. They don’t see easy wins,” she said.

“But you and I know that improving infrastructure … it’s not about scoring political points. This is not a partisan issue. It’s about ensuring Ontario’s success.” Continue reading