New Brunswick

Rural transportation service expands to meet 'overwhelming need'

Three groups are banding together to provide expanded affordable transportation to people in Westmorland and Albert counties in southeastern New Brunswick.

Expanded service includes Memramcook, Shediac, Beaubassin, Grand Barachois, Steeves Mountain, Lutes Mountain

Mary Smith, 79, is grateful for the transportation service she uses. Without it, she says she'd be forced to take expensive taxi rides. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

Three groups are banding together to provide expanded affordable transportation to people in Westmorland and Albert counties in southeastern New Brunswick.

All three groups, Rural Rides Affordable Transportation, Tele-Drive Albert County and the Volunteer Centre of Southeastern New Brunswick's volunteer driver program, provide seniors, people with disabilities and low-income households access to affordable transportation through a team of volunteer drivers.

"There is a desperate need for this service, especially in the rural communities because there are so many people that are not getting the access," said Kelly Taylor, the manager at Rural Rides.

"We have free health care, but if you can't get to the health care, it really is no good to seniors or people that have a low income."

Taylor said the service area will be expanded this month to include Memramcook, Shediac, Beaubassin, Grand Barachois, Steeves Mountain and Lutes Mountain.

Kelly Taylor, manager at Rural Rides Affordable Transportation, says there's a huge need for public transportation in rural areas.

Betty Smith of Riverview is a regular user of Tele-Drive Albert County. The 79-year-old says it's a wonderful service. She doesn't drive and her husband currently isn't able to, so she uses the service to run errands, visit the library, get groceries and go to the hospital.

Without the service, she said she'd have to take taxis, which would be expensive.

"I'd be stuck here pretty much," said Smith.

The Tele-Drive service costs Smith $10 for a return trip. During her outing, she can make multiple stops and the driver waits while Smith gets things done.

Praise for the drivers

"They wait for you, no matter how many hours it takes to get the groceries," she said. "They bring a book."

Taylor said a survey was done in Shediac and Beaubassin that determined there's an "overwhelming need" for the service.

"I don't anticipate any trouble finding people that need that kind of transportation," she said.

One downside to the expanded service is there will be a greater need for volunteer drivers.

"They are like angels on the ground, but we are always looking for more volunteers, because we can't over use the ones we have," said Taylor.

now