Citizens for Public Transit (C.P.T.) was formed in 2006 to address the need for scheduled fixed-route public transit, accessible to all, in Lunenburg County. Its focus has been service connecting Bridgewater, Lunenburg, Mahone Bay and adjacent portions of the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg (MODL), along a route encompassing some 16,000 persons. A detailed proposal was presented to the four Councils in 2007 and revised in 2012. (This can be viewed at transitlunenburg.ca/CPT's Proposal).
Since that time there have been numerous expressions of support for fixed-route public transit from the press, the public, Government agencies and NGOs. CPT's 2014 recent Annual General Meeting was attended by 35 citizensand and six municipal councillors, and was inspired by a stirring address by Frank Palermo on the power of local initiative.
With major funding from the Province of Nova Scotia and contributions from the Municipalities a Feasibility Study was commissioned in July 2009. It was conducted by iTRANS Consulting Inc., whose staff have extensive experience in the design and operation of transit services in both rural and urban communities.
The study examined projected costs to operate a local transit system, probable ridership, practicable routes and means of service delivery. This was based on extensive consultation with stakeholders from the District - local service providers, community organizations, businesses, public transit advocates and the public. Essentially it established that a cost-effective system can be operated along the lines proposed.
The Municipalities responded to the CPT proposal by forming an advisory Joint Transportation Committee, which heard futher representations by CPT and recommended that the Municipaliies take a joint approach to discussions with the Government of Nova Scotia.
In 2011/12 there was much discussion between the Municipalities and the Province of Nova Scotia of a joint venture with verbal offers from the Province to subsidize a three-year pilot fixed-route system. Unfortunately this potential project was not finalized before the change of Provincial government in 2013. The current government is at this time unwilling to consider support.
In 2013 the JTC decided that the Municipalities can not afford the subsidy necessary to establish a fixed-route bus system and in early 2014 funded a short transit consultant study of the potential for a demand-responsive system popularly known as "Dial-a-Ride". The consultant responded in April 2014 with a first assessment and some basic recommendations, principally that the Municipalities hire a "Coordinator" to consult with all possible participants, users, suppliers; to rally support and further develop the plan. The Municipalities have proceeded with this and a coordinator will be hired soon.
CPT has steadfastly opposed starting public transit with a demand-responsive system, arguing that, although it serves a certain disadvantaged segment of the population, it is far less cost-effective than fixed-route, therefore should be come later as an adjunct.
In June 2015 the Joint Trnsportation Committee (comprising representation from MODL, Bridgewater, Lunenburg and Mahone Bay) decided to terminate its study of a pre-booked system ("Dial-a-Ride")having taken it to the "pre-implementation" phase without enthusiastic support of all municipalities. In the opinion of CPT, this is for practical purposes, a municipally-sponsored taxi service with commensurate cost.
Sincd then JTC has essentially been in recess.
In Spring 2015 CPT recommended a scaled-back fixed-route pilot system, one that would be the minimum required - at minimum cost - to prove viability. It would provide direct service between Bridgewater, Lunenburg, and Mahone Bay with circulation through each of the cores. Observing that the Province had been prepared to fund the proposed Dial-a-Ride system in the amount of $75-100,000 and that the previous government had been prepared to fund a pilot fixed-route system at $150,000 annually, CPT surmised that a united approach by all four Municipalities would stand a good chance of a subsidy in the range of $75-100,000, and developed a budget on that basis. This was presented to a meeting of all four Mayors in September 2015. Response was guarded, but the Town of Bridgewater decided to evaluate the possibility of Municipal fixed-route system and applied to the Province for funds to hire a consultant.
The first report of the consultant was presented to Bridgewater Council in January, 2017. In April Council voted to implement a 9-month study, which may commence as early as the Fall of this year.
Meanwhile CPT has stated strong support for the Bridgewater initiative and requested that the JTC be re-instituted with the objective of studying possible links to the Bridgewater system hub.
Our fundamental priciples remain as: 1) Public Transit is a Public Good by virtue of Social Benefit and Economic Benefit; 2)"In Union there is Strength". The concept of public transit, with financial assistance from the Province of Nova Scotia has much greater chance of acceptance if proposed jointly by several Muncipalities.
Recent events can be found at the link "News".