By Tina Comeau
Hut’s Transit has been given the green light to provide transportation downtown for Yarmouth high school students during their lunch hour.
The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (URB) gave its approval in a decision dated March 8.
Gary Hudson, the owner/operator of Hut’s Transit, told the Vanguard that he is pleased to have the URB’s approval.
“I think it’s a good decision,” he said, saying that students and downtown business will benefit from it and he is happy that common sense has prevailed.
Hudson’s application to the URB had been opposed by the Tri-County Regional School Board, not because of the service he wanted to offer, but solely because of the vehicle the students would be transported in, this being a 15-passenger (driver included) van. School boards are prohibited from transporting students in this type of vehicle.
The URB said it concurred with the school board in that there is an inconsistency in the regulations since on the one hand the vans are not considered safe for the school board to transport students in but a private and public transportation service using them can safely transport students.
“If Hut’s Transit intended to transport the students on the highways, at speeds up to 110 kilometres an hour, where fatal accidents with these vehicles have occurred, the (URB) may be required to address the inconsistency,” Dawna Ring, who chaired a Feb. 5 URB hearing on this application, wrote in her decision. “However, as the proposed high school service will operate solely on town streets within 50 kilometre-per-hour speed limits, the board finds the inconsistency in the regulations need not be addressed in this case.”
Hudson – who told the URB he operates a safe service that includes trained staff and vehicles that are regularly maintained and inspected – had stated during last month’s hearing that transporting students downtown in his vans was safer than having the students walk on the side of the road. It would also ensure they are not late for classes.
It would also provide ongoing business to downtown eateries, he said, who may be impacted by the high school now being located farther away from the downtown core.
Hudson hopes there are no hard feelings between himself and the school board.
As for when he intends to begin offering the service – which is a $2 return trip, or $1 one way – Hudson says he will begin transporting students on March 18, the first day back to school for students after the March Break.
Hudson also said he will ensure that the vans are not overloaded and that students are wearing their seatbelts. If more than 14 students are looking for a ride downtown, he will send a second van or make a second trip.