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Fixed route one step closer to reality

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STELLARTON — The proposed fixed route is getting ready to roll, with one route and one bus.

A study for a three-year pilot project for a fixed route has been completed by a consultant with a Trenton-New Glasgow-Stellarton fixed route. That study came back in April and it determined that two buses and two routes would be necessary.

“It was a very expensive proposal,” Danny MacGillivray explains. “About $450,000 in capital, $650,000 in operational costs per year.”

MacGillivray says the proposal was deemed too expensive by all three municipal units involved, as well as the province.

“We all thought it was too much of a price tag.”

As a result, the Town of Trenton decided to step back to allow Stellarton and New Glasgow to have a fixed route. That would mean the project would involve one bus and one loop which would cut the cost basically in half.

In MacGillivray’s role as executive director of CHAD (Central Highland Association of the Disabled), he is working on a route for that one-hour loop between New Glasgow and Stellarton.

“We’re pretty close to determining what that one-hour loop would be.”

A budget for the fixed route will be available anytime now. That budget and the proposal will be taken to the province and the federal government sometime this month as well as to the New Glasgow and Stellarton town councils to try to get something approved.

“We are hoping for an April 1, 2020 launch date: One bus, one loop, one route.”

MacGillivray is elated with the proposal, which has been a long time in the making. He says they are looking at a $3 fee, discounts for bulk buying passes and for volume buying for seniors and youth.

“I’m really happy with the route because it hits all of the residential areas and all of the senior homes. It will also hit all seven of the major commercial destinations. The route is really set up well for success because we hit the places to pick people up and we also hit the places to drop them off.”

MacGillivray is hopeful the province will pay for the majority of the first year of the pilot project. And he says corporate partnerships will be welcome. “Anyone who would benefit from the fixed route being in Pictou County, we’re hoping they will come forward and help us.”

The fixed route will be available Monday to Saturday and operate starting at 7 a.m. and running to 9 p.m., which would accommodate workers, anyone needing transportation to medical appointments as well as students.

The bus service will not be a part of CHAD, MacGillivray says. “The study suggests is the service would be contracted out and we envision that CHAD would administer it and run it, but the operators would be the two municipalities. So it would be a municipal service run by CHAD.”

That will save a significant amount of money, MacGillivray points out, because if it was just municipal service they would have to buy their own backup bus but by dealing with CHAD, that organization will provide the backup bus. “That will save $150,000 right off the top with that partnership. Plus CHAD has experience with the transportation industry. We think it’s a good fit.”

The service would also benefit CHAD, MacGillivray says. “We think some of our clients would choose the fixed route instead of the CHAD bus which would allow us to downsize our vehicles from the big 18 passengers down to a smaller vehicle which would save us operating money in terms of fuel, repairs and maintenance.”