Nova Scotia

Halifax councillor asks for alternatives to Access-A-Bus

A Halifax councillor is considering transportation alternatives for Access-A-Bus users that can also be cheaper for the city.

Access-A-Bus usage has gone up by 25 per cent, at a cost of $34 in city subsidies per person

Since Access-A-Bus usage has increased 25 per cent, Councillor Waye Mason has asked for a report on providing free transit for Access-A-Bus users. (CBC)

A Halifax councillor is considering transportation alternatives for Access-A-Bus users that can also be cheaper for the city. 

Since Access-A-Bus usage has increased 25 per cent, Councillor Waye Mason has asked for a report on providing free transit for Access-A-Bus users. 

"We can try and incent people when they need Access-A-bus," Mason said. "It's there for them and we don't begrudge that. But if we can make it so that they can get on the regular bus for free, that moves some of the trips into the regular bus system."

Mason's push towards transportation alternatives is partially motivated by cost. Every time someone uses Access-A-Bus, it costs the city $34 dollars in subsidies. 

"Within two years, every bus in the fleet will be low floors. We're trying to make more and more of the stops accessible, and the idea is to try and get anybody… out of Access-A-Bus and onto a bus when it works for them."

Mason's idea is getting support from accessibility advocate, Gerry Post, who says encouraging Access-A-Bus users to start using the conventional service is about more than just cost. 

Councillor Waye Mason wants to incentivize users of Access-A-Bus to move to the conventional system by making fares free. (CBC)

"So, what I've proposed as well, is that they develop a bit of a buddy, ambassador service," Post said. "People in our community like myself are willing to volunteer to help others to get away from Access-A-Bus and onto the conventional system." 

Post has also suggested other ways for people in wheelchairs to get around that will increase efficiency on the same budget. 

"The other proposal is to look at whether or not we can do a deal with the taxi industry," he said.

"We now have 48 accessible taxis, which is wonderful, and it's a great service, and they are in fact much cheaper to use than Access-A-Bus. Currently, the Access-A-Bus, the average ride is about 7.5 kilometres, which is costing the city about $37. By taxi, it's only about $17"

Post adds change needs to happen soon because the transit system is facing "a tsunami" of seniors with a variety of mobility issues. 

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