June 17 was red-letter day for providers of local transit services in rural Nova Scotia. Minister of Municipal Affairs and Service Mark Furey was at Kings Transit’s New Minas office to announce $1 million in new funding for public and community-based transit providers around the province. Also announced was $500,000 in additional funding for CTAP: the community transportation assistance program.
“We want Nova Scotians to be able to choose where they live and work, so it is important they have access to public transportation to get them where they need to go,” Furey said in making the announcement.
“This new funding will help municipalities and community organizations provide and maintain reliable and affordable transit service.”
The exact breakdown of how the funding will be distributed was not included in the minister’s speech, but afterward, Furey and Kings South MLA Keith Irving confirmed that Kings Transit would be receiving $375,000 of the total. Other local transit operators included in the announcement were Kings Point-to-Point, which receives $113,354; Trans County Transportation Society, serving western Kings and Annapolis County, which receives $99,763; and West Hants Dial-a-Ride, which receives $61,974.
In his remarks, Furey described Kings Transit as “a great Nova Scotia success story. “Not only is it one of our province’s most successful public transit operators,” he said, “it is also a model of co-operation between governments that has stood as an example for more than three decades.”
The $500,000 in added funding for the community transportation assistance program increases the total available to community transportation providers to almost $1.2 million.
The funding, Furey said, “will contribute to the sustainability of community-based transit organizations that provide door-to-door service in 14 communities throughout rural Nova Scotia.”
The new $1 million contribution “will be available, not just this year, but every year, to support fixed-route service providers,” like Cape Breton Transit and Kings Transit, he added.
Kings Transit, “reflects the readiness of our municipal units to come together to serve the interests of Nova Scotians,” Furey said.
“Kings County and the towns of Kentville, Wolfville and Berwick recognized, some time ago, what the One Nova Scotia commission report had now confirmed – we will achieve true progress only when we work toward a shared vision through collaboration, cooperation and dialogue.”
Kentville Mayor Dave Corkum, Wolfville Mayor Jeff Cantwell and Berwick Mayor Don Clarke were present for the announcement.
“This is the first government in 30 years that has stepped up with this kind of funding that we can put toward capital and operational expenditures,” Kings Transit past chairman and Kentville deputy Mayor Mark Pearl said.
“It’s money we will now be able to count on into the future.”
Kings Transit general manager Stephen Foster said the funding would be used for capital expenditures and to refurbish buses.
“We’re very thankful the government has been paying attention to what we’ve been saying about needing more support,” Foster said.
Also in attendance was Faye Brown, manager of Kings Point-to-Point, who described the announcement as “wonderful news for community transit, and for the 14 organizations like ours around the province providing door-to-door service.”
Brown added, “we’re thrilled to hear of the increase in funding under the CTAP program, and also the change in the ATAP program for capital funding.”
Furey said ATAP, the accessible transportation assistance program, would now be able to contribute up to 66 per cent of the cost of new vehicles, to a maximum of $70,000.
“Until now,” he said, “Nova Scotia was one of the few provinces that did not contribute directly to municipal public transit. I am pleased to say that municipalities now have a willing partner in their efforts to establish, maintain and grow public transit services for the people of Nova Scotia.”