December 14, 2012 (Source:BTW) — Gord MacDonald, executive director of Community Care North Hastings, made a stop at the Hastings Highlands council meeting on Dec. 5. MacDonald delivered his report on The Rural Overland Utility Transit, or as it is known locally, the TROUT.
CCNH has been providing transportation to Hastings Highlands since 2010 through the TROUT but there is a total history of 31 years of service to the area.
MacDonald spoke to council about the growing number of seniors in Hastings Highlands who want to stay in their own homes as they age. Having access to public transportation helps with this.
“Our public transportation service combines a fixed route and schedule with a specialized service into a single transit model,” MacDonald explained. “This means everyone can ride public transit and that every senior and individual with accessibility issues is provided door-to-door service. We pick them up at their door Tuesday morning and drop them off at their door later the same day.”
MacDonald acknowledged that there is more work to be done with the promoting of public transit in the region. The program is new and still growing.
“Your support as a council will go a long way with legitimizing this service with your constituents,” MacDonald said. “In total, over the past three years we have provided approximately 3,754 rides to individuals in Hastings Highlands.”
MacDonald noted the postcard survey completed this past summer and shared with council that a staggering 98 per cent of constituents in Hastings Highlands indicated the need for the TROUT will continue and continue to increase.
MacDonald noted this information came from riders and those who do not use the service at this time.
“They indicate they may not be using the service now but they will need it in the future,” Macdonald said. “This says to me that people want to stay in their homes and age in place.”
Moving on to the numbers MacDonald thanked Hastings Highlands for their involvement and support.
“Over and above Hastings Highlands’ investment of $12,459, CCNH has brought in and contributed a total of $643,607 on behalf of the eight municipalities,” Macdonald said. “So your investment has been part of leveraging a total of $643,607 over the past three years. We trust this builds confidence in our commitment to the constituents of Hastings Highlands and the integrity of our actions and behaviour.”
MacDonald noted that CCNH did not ask any municipality to cover and shortfalls in expenditures over the past three years with the TROUT.
“Our commitment to you was to be responsible for these expenses,” MacDonald said. “We trust these actions build confidence in our ability to provide and run an effective public transit service.”
MacDonald leaves council with three recommendations to consider.
The first is for a transit commission to be formed as a formal governance structure for the public transit service. The second is that fares will be increased overall to help offset the expenses. And finally, that the formula for financial contribution by the municipality be based on the total private dwelling model.
MacDonald noted that this switch in funding formula was the result of a recommendation made by Hastings Highlands CAO Craig Davidson.
Council will discuss MacDonald’s recommendations in early February so that they will be able to respond by the end of that month.
MacDonald will continue his presentations to councils in the next couple of weeks.