Big changes could be on the way for Kings Transit's ridership.
Kings Transit has one year to work out the kinks in the Hants West service.
Stephen Foster, acting general manager of the Kings Transit Authority, presented the councils of Windsor, West Hants and Hantsport with a proposal that would result in significant savings for each municipal unit during a joint council meeting March 27.
Proposal pitches one bus for Hants West
The proposal says the Hants West service partners would see their municipal operating contribution reduced from $397,057 in the 2013-14 fiscal to $214,156 in the new fiscal by eliminating one bus.
The recommended changes would result in $87,857 in savings for West Hants, $53,643 in savings for the Town of Windsor and $14,048 in savings for the Town of Hantsport.
Kings Transit currently has two buses travelling the Hants West routes 15 hours a day Monday through to Friday and 11 hours on Saturdays, with one bus dedicated to the Brooklyn run. According to Kings Transit, about 32,000 passengers boarded the buses in the 2013-14 service year.
The hours of operation for the remaining bus would be reduced to 13 hours per day throughout the week, and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays.
The transit authority’s proposal recommends assigning one bus to cover Brooklyn, Windsor and Hantsport. The changes would result in layoffs for two full-time employees and one spare operator.
The remaining bus would travel three express routes in Brooklyn that were originally scheduled with Acadia University students in mind, Foster said.
Coun. Shirley Pineo, a West Hants councillor representing Avondale and the Burlingtons, felt the bus passing through Brooklyn at 7 a.m., noon and 6 p.m. would not be convenient for seniors.
The schedule is not fixed at this point, but Foster stressed that the express routes will mean reduced travel times between Brooklyn and Windsor.
Pineo said she fears the changes will result in a decrease in ridership, and suggested the transit authority continue to examine who is boarding the bus in the Brooklyn area, when and why they are using the bus.
“I think we are going to lose some of the riders we have,” she said.
Pineo added that it may be cheaper to subsidize cab fares for people travelling into town from Brooklyn.
Foster said he feels the reduced travel times may attract more passengers.
“These are expresses. They can be adjusted. We can put more in, or less, or alter the time of day,” he said.
Windsor Mayor Paul Beazley commended Foster for preparing a report that shows how the significant cost savings that they asked for at previous joint council meeting can be achieved.
Foster asked council to consider allowing Kings Transit to conduct a one-year trial to test the successof the route redesign. He said the proposed routes are based on information provided by Kings Transit’s drivers.
“Their passengers become their friends and they don’t want to see anybody left behind.”
Councils agree to allow trial, serve notice
West Hants Warden Richard Dauphinee offered up a motion calling on the three councils to discuss the proposal as individual units, allow for a fair, one-year trial to take place but also serve Kings Transit 12 months’ notice.
“If it works we’ll stay with it, if not, the clock is ticking,” said the warden, in ending his motion.
The motion, seconded by Windsor’s Coun. Scott Geddes, received unanimous support.
Patricia Bishop, chairperson of Kings Transit’s board of directors, said the board must discuss joint council’s motion, and the potential implications on the transit authority, before they can commit to a plan of action moving forward.
“I have no idea how the board will react to that. I don’t think that they were thinking that you would put something like that on the floor so, now that you have, that is something that they’re going to have to talk about.”
The municipal partners are required to give Kings Transit notice of their intent to withdraw from the service nine months in advance.
“We didn’t give nine months’ notice tonight,” noted Dauphinee. “We want to work over the year… let’s take that as encouragement.”