As more and more of the county reopens from the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are using Pictou County Transit.
Danny MacGillivray, executive director of CHAD Transit, which operates Pictou County Transit, says ridership has grown from around 30-40 people per week up to close to 90.
“And that’s with the NSCC still closed,” said MacGillivray, anticipating that number to only increase once the campus reopens.
Since launching in May, Pictou County Transit has been offering a one-hour loop that starts and ends at the Aberdeen Business Centre in New Glasgow. There are several stops along the way, including on Dalhousie Street near the library and fire station, North End Recreation Centre, West Side Plaza, Highland Square, Pictou County Wellness Centre, near the Foord Street Tim Hortons in Stellarton, and across from the Aberdeen Hospital on Pine Street.
The three-year pilot project operates one bus daily, allowing for a total of 30 passengers—20 sitting and 10 standing.
“We had a full bus the other day,” MacGillivray said, noting he used it when it was full and some passengers included those from the Y day camp. “It’s only (been full) that once so far.”
Rick Hartling is a regular user of the service, using it with his partner every few days, and is concerned about the busy times with winter approaching.
“My partner and I had to walk home,” said Hartling, about not being able to use the service the same day MacGillivray spoke about it being full. “I know of other seniors that were impacted as well. What’s going to happen in the winter time? There aren’t any shelters.”
Hartling and his partner both live on the east side of New Glasgow and he said it took them 45 minutes to walk home. He would love to see the transit service expand before the three-year pilot project is up, whether that’s bringing in a larger bus, offering a second smaller bus, or even offering a 30-minute route instead of the one-hour.
“At peak time, a lot of people are taking the transit service to work,” said Hartling. “I would really like to see things get going. I’m told there’s a year and a half wait for buses, but there must be other municipalities in the province with older buses that could be put on the road until they can buy a bigger bus.”
MacGillivray said the route will remain the same during the length of the pilot project, as will the number of buses available.
“The route can be changed after that, but we’re right on time now with one hour,” he said.
Once two years passes, MacGillivray said an evaluation will be done to see about continuing the program while bringing other municipalities on board.
“After those two years, we will take a look at things and see if we can approach other municipalities to join in,” he said, adding routes will be added if municipal units wish to participate and help expand.
MacGillivray says the route currently has signs in place noting the stops of the transit service.
“If we extend beyond that three-year pilot project, we will look at adding in shelters at those stops,” he said.