Free transit trial exceeds expectations

Four new buses, two new Handi-Trans vehicles coming into the fleet

SYDNEY, NS - Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s free bus summer trial was “successful beyond anyone’s imagination,” said Mayor Cecil Clarke.

“We had initially estimated we might see a 20 to 30 per cent increase, but it was 200 to 300 per cent,” said Clarke. “People from all walks of life saw the potential of a modern and effective transit system. We had teens going to the skateparks and the golf course, some older gentlemen doing a legion tour and families going to the beach.”

Clarke said municipal staff are going to examine scenarios to improve the service based on rider feedback and usage, including corporate and non-profit participation and better coordination of routes and schedules. Sunday service was the most popular request of riders, many of whom work on Sundays.

“The message we take away from this trial is that transit is valued by many and it benefits our economy to move workers throughout the day, every day,” added Clarke.

New buses are coming to CBRM’s fleet due to the support of provincial and federal transit funding.

The municipality has ordered one new full-size bus with a $425,000 contribution from the Province of Nova Scotia through the Public Transit Assistance Program. Another contribution of $45,000 from the province’s Accessible Transportation Assistance Program has helped to finance a new Handi-Trans vehicle.

“Public transit is an important service that will make the Cape Breton Regional Municipality stronger, healthier and more sustainable," said MLA Derek Mombourquette on behalf of Municipal Affairs Minister Zach Churchill. "This funding will help to ensure the valuable and necessary infrastructure is in place to meet the needs of our citizens."

A tender will soon be issued for three, new, full-size buses and a new Handi-Trans vehicle will be ordered in the early winter. This fleet enhancement is funded with $677,244 in federal transit money announced in mid-August. CBRM is contributing matching funds.

Cape Breton United Way is now taking applications for a subsidized transit pass program to assist low income, working residents with the cost of a bus pass. Bus passes and Google Transit Trip Planner are two recent service enhancements to Cape Breton Transit.

Rider statistics and survey data