Supporters uphold CHAD’s service

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NEW GLASGOW — More people need to understand CHAD Transit’s value, Tim Houston says.

The Pictou East MLA and provincial Progressive Conservative leader was guest speaker at its recent annual general meeting at Summer Street Industries.

Houston said he envisions CHAD and similar bus companies in Nova Scotia as providing a solution to overstressed Emergency Health Services (EHS) by providing non-urgent transportation to health centres.

“I think organizations like CHAD will have a big opportunity to provide this service,” he said. “CHAD is improving lives, taking people to work, social activities and medical appointments, but (medical) cancellations are a huge drain on our health system. CHAD is providing a service, filling a void and saving money. People around the province look at what people here in Pictou County have and they are envious.”

Houston said he is disappointed in people who oppose CHAD’s plan to provide a fixed-route service between New Glasgow and Stellarton. Its bid to seek more financial support from all six local municipalities to establish a fixed-route service fell through due to a lack of unanimous support.

“People need to understand the need,” he said. “I think we need more rural transportation. Access to reliable transportation allows communities to flourish.”

Central Nova MP Sean Fraser noted federal funding that has flowed to the province for public transit that groups like CHAD can access for services like the fixed route.”This fixed loop is something we absolutely have to have in the community,” he said.

Testimonials were shared by CHAD clients Don MacInnis, Elwin Hemphill, New Glasgow Police Const. Ken MacDonald and driver Fred Jeffery.

CHAD executive director Danny MacGillivray shared an overview of the service and expressed thanks to financial support provided by groups, such as the Sutherland-Harris Memorial Hospital Foundation, the United Way of Pictou and the local municipalities, as well as 100 Women Who Care.

Fare incomse is down more than $10,000 from the previous fiscal year ending on March 31, but revenue from the province, municipalities, charter, general donations and advertising is up.

Charter revenue for wedding, dances and other functions that stood at $3,000 six years ago was nearly $124,000 in 2018-19. It rose from $33,000 in 2016-17 to more than $87,000 in 2017-18, he said.

“We have some charters booked already for 2019-20,” he said. “It’s offering a service that wasn’t there before.”

Overall revenue in 2018-19 was $670,497, with a profit of $95,198, up from $68,700 the previous year.

CHAD repaid a recallable debt of $41,571 to leave it with an operating fund balance of $97,453.

Outgoing board chairman Faus Johnson, who has been a director for nine years and chaired the last eight years, said purchasing vehicles remains a challenge while it has to borrow money. He also sees the potential of a fixed route, beyond the on-call drives that have been its main service.

“We’re operating more as a taxi service than a bus service,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll get support for a fixed route.”

From left: outgoing CHAD board chairman Faus Johnson, CHAD executive director Danny MacGillivray, testimonial presenter Ken MacDonald and guest speaker Tim Houston. (Goodwin photo)