TRURO – Belinda MacAloney was all smiles Friday morning knowing the quality of her life could improve thanks to funding that will bring another accessible bus to Colchester County.
“This is wonderful. This makes me feel important,” said MacAloney, a Truro resident who relies on able transit because of multiple sclerosis, in response to an announcement by the provincial government yesterday.
More than $412,900 will be spent to increase accessibility to transportation for seniors and people with disabilities in the province. The money helps rural transit services buy or convert vehicles for accessible transportation, providing up to two-thirds of eligible costs, to a maximum of $70,000 for new vehicles, and $15,000 for used vehicles.
One of the eight organizations benefiting from the money, which is made available through the Accessible Transportation Assistance Program, is Colchester Transportation Co-operative Ltd. (CTCL). It will use its share of the funding - $32,914 - to purchase a new seven-passenger accessible van, which costs between $50,000 and $55,000.
“I use the bus quite a bit … especially to get to doctors appointments in Halifax. I need it,” said MacAloney.
Another client is Truro’s Donna Archibald, who was also in attendance at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre to hear the funding announcement.
“If we don’t have the bus there will be more turmoil in Truro and we won’t have faith in anyone. I hope and pray we never stop our transit system,” said Archibald.
“I wouldn't be able to get out at all without the bus," added Paulette MacNeil, another Truro bus client. "I use it to go shopping and to get to all of my appointments."
Mary Loughead-Roy, manager of CTCL, told the Truro Daily News the funding is important because “we couldn’t fundraise ourselves to get another bus.”
The company has three buses and an older van, all between the one and four years old, but another vehicle is required because of client demand.
“They don’t seem old but there’s a lot of mileage and wear and tear on them,” said Loughead-Roy, confirming there are about 21,000 rides a year on the buses.
Colchester-North MLA Karen Casey made the announcement on behalf of Municipal Affairs Minister Mark Furey. Casey said the initiative will be an “investment in productivity … and (offer) better quality of life.”
Accessible transportation organizations receiving funding:
- Colchester Transportation Co-operative Ltd. (CTCL), seven-passenger accessible van, 32,914
- Le Transport De Clare, 18-passenger accessible bus, $70,000
- Trans County Transportation Society (TCTS), Annapolis County, 10-passenger accessible bus, $70,000
- Antigonish Community Transit, 16-passenger accessible bus, $58,523
- Strait Area Transit, seven-passenger accessible van, $39,802
- CHAD Transit, Pictou, 12-passenger accessible bus, $60,014
- Sou'West Nova Transit, Shelburne, five-passenger accessible van, $31,737
- Cape Breton Regional Municipality, 16-passenger accessible bus, $50,000
* Municipal accessible transit services will be eligible to receive 50 per cent of the capital cost of the vehicle to a maximum of $50,000.