Passengers using Kings Transit in Digby County will be riding on a shiny new bus starting sometime in the next few weeks.
West Nova MP Greg Kerr was in Seabrook on Wednesday, June 25 to announce $280,000 from the federal gas tax fund, which the Municipality of the District of Digby is using to buy a new bus.
“The government of Canada remains firmly committed to the economic development of our rural communities,” said Kerr. “And the preservation of efficient public transit is an essential component of that strategy.”
The municipality will own the 27-foot low-floor accessible bus but Kings Transit will operate it as the main vehicle on the Cornwallis—Digby –Weymouth route.
Linda Gregory, warden of the Municipality of the District of Digby, was among the crowd of two-dozen politicians, staff and residents who boarded the new bus for a look around. She also posed for pictures in the driver’s seat.
“The Municipality of the District of Digby has long realized that the availability of an effective, regular and reliable means of public transit is vital to growing our community and serving our citizens,” said Gregory. “That’s why we are using these considerable funds to make this significant transportation upgrade.”
The new 23-passenger bus replaces the Municipality’s 30-foot bus, which will stay in Weymouth as a spare and the former spare, the one that looks like a small motorhome, will be retired from service.
Stephen Foster, general manager of King’s Transit, says the new bus will mean fuel savings.
“We didn’t need to be running the bigger bus but this one will still enable to take big groups,” said Foster. “We are very excited by the addition of this new vehicle and we thanks the Municipality for the great operating relationship we have.”
The new bus kneels for easier access, it has a fold out ramp to allow persons in wheelchairs aboard and it has two special stations where wheelchairs can be fastened in place.
Foster says he has personally seen cases where the transit system allows people to stay in their homes longer and remain independent even without a personal vehicle.
Kerr in his remarks also spoke about changes to the federal gas tax fund.
The federal gas tax fund, dating back to 2005, is intended to provide “predictable, long-term, stable funding for Canadian municipalities to help them build and revitalize their local public infrastructure while creating jobs and long term prosperity.”
Up until this year that money was to be used for infrastructure projects for public transit, water, wastewater and sewer, garbage and community energy systems, and local roads and bridges.
The federal government has added more flexibility into the program this year so that going forward eligible projects will also include highways, local and regional airports, short-line rail, short-sea shipping, disaster mitigation, broadband and connectivity, brownfield redevelopment, culture, tourism, sport and recreation.
“Municipalities asked for this flexibility and we listened, said Kerr during his remarks in Seabrook.
The Municipality of the District of Digby will be offering free trips on Kings Transit for the Saturdays of Lobster Bash, Scallop Days and Wharf Rat Rally.