PEI

Senators urge Ottawa to help fund Maritime Bus

A group of senators is calling for the federal government to help fund Maritime Bus.

Company doesn't qualify for federal funding under current rules

Maritime Bus doesn't qualify for federal funding under the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund because it is a for-profit company. (CBC)

A group of senators is calling for the federal government to provide some financial support to Maritime Bus.

Maritime senators Diane Griffin, Stan Kutcher and Jim Quinn say the government should be more flexible and allow for funding of the transit service.

Maritime Bus doesn't qualify for federal funding under the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund because it is a for-profit company.

But Sen. Griffin, from P.E.I., says the operator provides an essential service.

"It's a privately owned company, but it's actually providing a rather public service," she said. 

"In most places where people live in big cities, the transportation is owned by the city or some other public interest. But here what we have are three different provinces in a relatively small region that don't have inter-city transport except Maritime Bus."

Potential loss of service

Maritime Bus is the only transit system connecting rural parts of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. The operator also offers parcel shipping, and transports blood products to hospitals.

The company has been facing major losses due to the pandemic.

Maritime Bus is currently asking the federal government and the provinces to contribute money so it can buy 25 clean diesel buses and three electric buses. 

Under their proposal, Ottawa would be providing $8 million and the three Maritime provinces would be providing $2 million each. Maritime Bus would be investing $6 million.

Griffin said the request is "entirely reasonable," and she fears lack of funding could end up impacting service.

"Maritime Bus is in a situation where it can't continue to provide the service if it's not able to keep [operating] as a functional entity," she said.

"To be functional, it needs to be able to access the funds that other services can access such as municipal transit services."

She said the government should be better at adapting its rules to address the transportation needs of rural communities across the country.

"I know Canada is a big country, and it's really difficult to come up with programs that will suit everywhere to serve the same purpose. But this is a case were there needs to be more flexibility," she said.

"We have rural transportation that is not nearly equal to what's enjoyed in the municipalities in this country."

With files from Laura Chapin

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now