Maritimers search for alternative transportation
Some travellers in the Maritimes are already scrambling to find alternative transportation after Acadian Lines announced Tuesday that it would cease operations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I. by the end of November.
The last year has been tumultuous for public transportation with the transit strike in Halifax, a continuing lockout at Codiac Transpo in Moncton, planned Via Rail cuts across the Maritimes, and now the Acadian Lines closure.
Martika Diggs took the bus home to Halifax Wednesday after a visit with her mother in Moncton.
"I mean I'll have to take the train, but I guarantee there'll be less trips, because I can't just take the train like that whenever, it is more expensive," she said.
"There's a lack of transportation around here. Not everyone has a car," said Kayla Whalen, while waiting to board a bus to Truro.
The Motor Carrier Act regulates buses, which is under the Energy and Utilities Board. Under the current regulations, Acadian has exclusive rights to the routes it operates.
Acadian Lines says they've tried to change their routes but the Utility and Review Board turned down their request. The company has written letters to the government asking to eliminate services in some areas and reduce the frequency of travel in others
Bernie Melanson operates a shuttle service in Nova Scotia. Following Acadian Line's announcement Tuesday, he says he'll ask the review board to expand his routes.
His shuttle provides transportation between Yarmouth and Halifax. It also connects to P.E.I. and Cape Breton.
There are 15 shuttle companies operating in Nova Scotia, and business is growing.
Acadian Lines has a stop in Digby, N.S., but Jim Ruxton called Bernie's Shuttle Service on Wednesday instead.
"It's much more convenient. They pick me up right at the house and they drop me off at my parents' place in Cole Harbour. It's a two hour trip instead of a four or five hour trip," Ruxton said.
The shuttles are more expensive, Ruxton paid $70 instead of $52 for an Acadian ride, but some users say it's worth it.
"He unloaded everything, he loaded everything, we got a rest stop, it was great," said passenger Cindy Cserti.
During the Acadian Line lock out Scotia Shuttle was given permission by provincial regulators to carry passengers to New Brunswick.
"It opened a little opening, a crack in the door happened and it allowed us to come in," said operator Gary Shelton.
He says he's the first Shuttle operator to do inter-provincial business between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, but he says he expects shuttles to expand as Acadian Lines closes.