Monday, September 29, 2008

The dream.. and the reality

A fellow from the Motor Carrier Passenger Council of Canada stopped in to chat about their on-going project to raise the status of bus operators. It's an interesting arguement, raise the profile of the bus driver with an acreditation to similar to a trade. Go see more about it at:

However after the spinning of webs and the daydream of the enhanced training dollars we could access, I came back to the basic problem facing any small town special transportation provider: "are we going to make it through the next year?"

I sent this follow-up note:

From: Paul Siller
To: Jim Mckinnon

Hi Jim,

Thanks for dropping by and explaining the MCPCC initiative.

I guess I'm a bit lukewarm to the effort because while the training and certification is something we'd like to look towards in our future, our immediate concerns are pure survival.

The province of Alberta chopped funding in 1994 for operation of public transit (and special needs transit). Despite elimination of Alberta's deficit and debt, there has been no provincial support for transit since that time. While municipalities have increased access to resources, there are no guidelines from the province that special needs transportation has to even be provided by a municipality. The result is
that we never know if we are going to make through each year

Sadly, the province is growing, hospital beds are scarce and folks released into "care in the community" are being sent back to the hospital as transportation isn't available. Just after you left I fielded a call for dialysis that we can't provide with our present resources. The lady will have to stay in hospital for another two weeks. Oddly enough, the $22,000 it will cost for her hospital stay would cover her transportation for about 18 months.

I think part of the lack of support relates to the poor image governments have of transit. It's viewed by the provincial cabinet as a nuisance. Yet the 100 special transportation providers helps the province save some $75 - 100 million a year from senior services, children's services, health, learning and more (that's about a billion dollars since they dropped our funding and forced us to work even harder).

Until there is some stability in support from the Alberta government, I don't see trade skills certification for special needs transportation drivers moving in any kind of serious way here in Alberta.

Good luck with the project.


Note; Your milage may vary.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Facebook | Speak Up for Public Transit

Facebook | Speak Up for Public Transit

Not enough buses, trains to meet new demand; the federal government must invest more money into transit!

This is the conclusion of a joint public opinion poll commissioned by CUTA and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Now a federal election is looming. What a great time to get our message across!

All political parties are aware of this survey and we need your help in making sure that every single candidate, especially in your own ridings, realizes that rising gas prices are cutting into Canadians’ spending power and prompting them to consider taking public transit for some relief. Transit ridership could triple as a result of higher gas prices. But we all know that without new funding, this kind of increased demand would overwhelm urban systems, many of which are already at or beyond capacity during peak hours. CUTA is expecting that the country’s transit systems will require $40 billion over the next five years to meet the demands and expand public transit.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Funding shortfall puts Brooks handibus service in jeopardy

“We just can’t do this for another year.”

The Brooks Bulletin
Contract negotiations between the city and the Newell Community Action Group for Brooks handibus service that were first reported in the Bulletin in March have gone nowhere.
 NCAG executive director Pat Whyte says in June she provided the city with a 2008-2009 budget showing a $67,000 shortfall. She says she hasn’t heard anything in response from the city.
 “Yet in our contract with the city it says we should never run at a shortfall,” she said. Last week Whyte sent another letter to the city asking for amendments to be made to their contract with the city effective January 1, 2009.
 Currently the city provides the NCAG with $1,998 per month to operate the handibus and puts another $2000 per month into a reserve for a new handibus should one be needed.
 Monthly expenditures related to handibus service in Brooks amount to well over $2000, with driver’s pay and fuel for the bus exceeding the amount provided by the city.....

(see article for more details)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Activist for disabled taking on bus battle

Activist for disabled taking on bus battle

Dave Rogers, Ottawa Citizen
Published: Tuesday, September 02, 2008
OTTAWA-After challenging the National Capital Commission because the York Street Steps are not accessible to the disabled, Bob Brown is taking the Société de Transport de l'Outaouais to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal because its buses aren't wheelchair-accessible.

The tribunal is to hear the case in October.

Mr. Brown, 54, uses a motorized wheelchair after being disabled in a car crash when he was 18.

In February 2005, he was unable to get on an STO bus on Rideau Street bound for Winterlude at Jacques Cartier Park in Gatineau. Now on medical leave from his job with the federal government, he says Canada's capital city should be a model of accessibility for the disabled.

"If you are a person with a disability using a wheelchair living on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River, you can't use the Quebec transit system," Mr. Brown said Tuesday. "Most of the OC Transpo buses work for me, but I can't use the STO buses because they are not accessible.

"The Canadian Human Rights Act says they must provide reasonable accommodation, but my understanding is that STO buses won't work for wheelchairs until 2017."

Mr. Brown says he isn't interested in using special para-transit buses for the disabled because he wants to be able to travel without reserving a bus a day in advance. He said the STO operates a bus service for the disabled, but it is for Quebec residents only.

(see more at the original article)