Shawna Turnbull loves taking the CHAD Transit bus to work every day.
“I’ve been using it for a long time, since I’ve been coming to work,” Turnbull said. She estimates that has been at least a decade.
Turnbull works at Summer Street and is among the many employees and clients from Summer Street who rely on the transportation service CHAD provides to get them to their destination.
Turnbull knows all of the drivers by name, “and they all know me,” she chuckles.
Affordable public transportation has been possible in Pictou County for a quarter of a century, thanks to CHAD Transit.
CHAD is now celebrating 25 years of serving the transportation needs of Pictou County residents and provides more than 30,000 trips per year.
Summer Street has been a client as long as CHAD has been operating, says Bob Bennett, Summer Street’s executive director.
“They’re our longest client and also our largest client by far,” acknowledges CHAD’s executive director Danny MacGillivray. “In fact, when Summer Street re-opened in October (after COVID-19 forced them to close temporarily) it moved us up from having one bus on the road to having three buses on the road every day.”
Bennett lauds, “The bottom line is without CHAD, many clients would not have been able to voluntarily participate in programs and services or work for Summer Street or other employers.”
It has come full circle for CHAD and Summer Street.
“Before CHAD, we used to have a fixed transit system,” says Bennett. That is how many clients and employees arrived at Summer Street every day. “And now CHAD is going to manage a fixed transit system. So Summer Street will be able to use both services.
“Transportation is a huge priority for our organization so we’re really happy with the partnership.”
CHAD Transit started in response to the suspension of service of Pictou County Transit in 1996. When Pictou County Transit ceased to operate it left a void in transportation – especially for seniors and those in wheelchairs. So CHAD Transit launched its service to accommodate those groups in particular, and has since expanded.
“Our mission is ‘Community Transportation for All’,” says MacGillivray. “When you call for a drive, the only questions we ask are when and where.”
Rosemary Hayter, chairperson of CHAD Transit says, “CHAD Transit started in 1996 as an emergency fill-in for those in most dire need of transportation but has evolved into a transportation solution for all. We plan on continued growth, hoping to fill the transportation needs for all the people of Pictou County. A current example of CHAD Transit’s flexibility to fill such needs is free trips to COVID vaccination clinics. Even if you have to travel to Truro or Antigonish for your shot, it is still free to go with us.”
CHAD Transit also has a program available to subsidize rides for those who cannot afford the full fee. “We truly live our mission, Community Transportation for All,” says MacGillivray.
CHAD Transit has come a long way in its 25 years of operation; it began with a single van donated by the Kinsmen Club of New Glasgow and now has a fleet of six buses, a minivan and a van.
“CHAD Transit has recently experienced growth as the towns of Stellarton and New Glasgow have revived Pictou County Transit (PCT), committing to a three-year pilot project,” noted MacGillivray.
“CHAD Transit was asked to manage and operate the service, as we have transportation expertise, and are providing a backup bus as needed, saving PCT the significant expense of a spare bus.”
The plan is a one-hour loop between the two towns, Monday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Target start date is May 17.
Celebrating CHAD Transit’s 25th anniversary of filling the transportation needs of Pictou County are, from the left: Bob Bennett, Summer Street executive director; Rosemary Hayter, chairperson of CHAD Transit; Keith Sutherland, who has been a CHAD transit driver for 11 years with Shawna Turnbull (front) who uses CHAD’s services to get to Summer Street; and Danny MacGillivray, CHAD Transit executive director. (Jardine photo)