Hundreds of people on waiting list for accessible bus service in Moncton
Ability Transit got an extra 800 calls over the summer, which is usually a slower time for demand
Kourtney Stevenson says Ability Transit has helped her live a more independent life.
But with an increase in demand for the accessible bus service, it's getting harder for Stevenson to get around. She now has to book a ride two months in advance.
"It's difficult because people don't live two months schedule—you can't really do that for doctor's appointments they don't live two months ahead of schedule I don't know what I'm going to do next week let alone two months from now," Stevenson said.
Stevenson, who has cerebral palsy, moved to Moncton from Petitcodiac 10 years ago as a college student to address transportation issues.
When she first started using Ability Transit, she only had to book two weeks in advance.
Recently, she had to get to an appointment, which proved costly.
"I had a medical appointment for my chair and they were booked and I kept calling back to check to see if I could still get them but they were booked so I called a taxi—and actually they were booked but they were able to squeeze me in and it cost me for a round trip $42," she said.
Stevenson is on a limited budget, living on just $763 a month. She said the $2.50 ride provided by Ability Transit is much more affordable.
Large increase in ridership
The non-profit organization is still trying to figure out what caused the bump in ridership.
Kathleen Leger is the secretary of the organization's board of directors, and she uses the service herself.
"Over the three month period for summer we got a boom of over 800 calls and this is our slow time in the summer we weren't expecting it," she said.
Leger said that has created a backlog.
"Unfortunately there's a 300 person waiting list right now so people call, and sometimes there are cancellations but especially the winter now this is starting to get our busy season there." Leger said.
"There's so much to do in this city now like it seems that people are more active there's more to do people seem to be like moving to Moncton more as well." she said.
Leger says each of the organization's four buses logs about 6500 trips a year.
There is some good news for Ability Transit on the horizon.
Moncton city council has approved, in principle, close to $100,000 in funding from the operating budget to cover the cost of a fifth bus. The final budget approval is expected Dec. 18.
Leger said a fifth bus will be full right away and if all goes as planned, it will be operational by spring.
Stevenson said although she is thrilled a fifth bus is coming, it's going to be a long winter.
"It's going to be crazy cause it is already crazy but it's going to be more intense because people like myself in the summer I motor around the city but in the winter I can't really do that. I get stuck all the time. I do that because it's hard but people rely more on the service in the winter so it's going to be jam packed," she said.