Seniors call for more public transit funding

Charlottetown's bus network is getting poor marks from some seniors and people with disabilities.

Charlottetown transit has had successes and faces challenges, public meeting hears

The Charlottetown transit system, which started running in 2005, has grown rapidly. (CBC)

Charlottetown's bus network is getting poor marks from some seniors and people with disabilities.

The complaints emerged during a meeting Thursday night on how to improve transit ridership around the provincial capital.

Many seniors have tried the bus in Charlottetown and given up on it, says seniors advocate Olive Bryanton. (CBC)

Trius Transit owner Mike Cassidy said students make up the bulk of the ridership in the city, and senior's advocate Olive Bryanton said that may be because the system is failing older residents.

"Some have tried it, and it just is not working for them," said Bryanton, "so they're not going to use it anymore."

Bryanton said stops are too far from grocery stores and seniors centres.

Seniors were not the only people at the meeting who suggest the system needs improvement. Bernie Wilson said riding the bus can be just as challenging for Islanders with disabilities.

"I've tried to use the bus at different times, and it's not possible," said Wilson.

"I don't know where the accessible ones are."

Cassidy acknowledged the problems, while noting the system has had successes. Ridership on the University Avenue route has grown from 75 a day when the system launched in 2005 up to 850 today. He said he's listening to the concerns, but there is only so much can do with the money he has available.

"We have the lowest subsidy per capita in Canada, when you look at the number of service hours we offer for communities less than 50,000," he said.

It is difficult for people with disabilities to use the system, says Bernie Wilson. (CBC)

Bryanton said it may be time to reconsider where government spends its money.

"We subsidize highways. We subsidize vehicles, so why can't we subsidize a public transit system?" she said.

While students are the people who use the bus most, those at the meeting said there is still growth possible in that market. They said many students aren't using the transit system because there's not enough incentive to leave the car at home.

For mobile device users:What is stopping you from riding the bus in Charlottetown?

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