By Wendy Elliott
Wolfville Coun. Mercedes Brian says there’s a lot riding on the possibility of a Kings Transit pass for Acadia University students.
Should the necessary 30 per cent of students vote in favour of it on Feb. 13, there will be an increase to the system’s core service, more frequent service to Kentville and a route along Belcher Street from Port Williams.
“Thirty per cent have to vote,” Brian noted, “then we’re looking for a simple majority.”
The Kings Transit board member said a campaign to inform the student body about the positive aspects of a pass started Feb. 1.
“If the referendum passes, Kings Transit will be able to greatly improve bus service between Wolfville, Port Williams, New Minas and Kentville for students and others who choose to take the bus.”
Improvements would include tripling the number of buses per hour between Kentville and Wolfville by adding an express route along Highway 1 and extended hours of service. Pass holders would be able to use Google Transit to provide better access to route and scheduling information.
“This type of universal bus pass for university students, generally called U-Pass, is already in place in many urban areas across Canada,” according to Ron Mullins, Kings Transit’s general manager.
“We believe our proposal to Acadia students is the first outside of a city. Given Acadia’s growing reputation as a living model of social, economic and environmental sustainability, we felt we should offer a U-Pass program,” he said. “It will provide Acadia students and others with more convenient, reliable bus service that would give them greater mobility and independence, which includes access to more employment, shopping, entertainment and housing options.”
While improved bus service will mean cleaner air as well as fewer traffic and parking issues, it hinges on the referendum. If it passes, all full-time Acadia students would pay a $125 annual U-Pass fee while part-timers would pay $65. In return, they would get year-round unlimited access to all Kings Transit services all the way from Brooklyn in the east, through the towns of Windsor, Wolfville, Kentville, Berwick, Middleton and Digby to Weymouth in the west.
U-pass holders will also get discounts negotiated for them by Kings Transit at Boston Pizza, Staples, Swiss Chalet, Canadian Tire, Maritime Bus and Jungle Jim’s.
“It’s a win-win-win,” said Bill Zimmerman, who was previously a Wolfville town councillor and Kings Transit board member. “All students, including those who usually drive or walk, will save money and time if they use the discounts or take the bus even occasionally. Acadia will be better able to attract students who rely on public transit, and less congested parking lots will make it easier and more pleasant for folks to enjoy Wolfville’s shops, restaurants and entertainment venues.”