Charlotte County – The Rural Lynx/Maritime Bus transportation pilot project ended in June 2019, but the Rural Lynx Board remains active in searching for opportunities to alternative modes of transportation that meet our local needs. In the twenty months the bus operated between St. Stephen and Saint John, there were approximately 3,500 rides taken. Ridership was strong from residents in Grand Manan, and routinely used by college students and by seniors.Almost 50 per cent of riders continued on into the Maritime Bus network to Moncton, Halifax and Quebec, demonstrating the importance of connectivity in routes. For some, the bus became a valued option for local travel, but we learned that for many, schedule times, fare, and the lack of a door-to-door service wasn’t working.
In June, our Rural Lynx Board was awarded an Environmental Trust Fund grant from the Province of New Brunswick, to further study how the establishment of a multi-modal transportation service could be modeled to provide a more responsive transportation service and reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions.
The Rural Lynx Board selected Dillon Consulting, based in Saint John, after a number of groups submitted detailed requests for proposals as competition. Dillon consultants, specifically experienced transportation planners, are currently developing business ready models for an on-demand, door to door service centered in three regions; St Stephen and the surrounding areas, Saint Andrews and the surrounding areas and Eastern Charlotte County, servicing Grand Manan, Blacks Harbour, St. George and Lepreau regions.
Dillon will also research and recommend a unified communications strategy and the most appropriate operational software to coordinate established and the new provision of transportation services. Our board will further study the potential GHG savings for the final proposed services. Public transportation, especially for rural based communities, offers an immediate and important opportunity for everyone to become part of the solution for climate- change.
Expressions of interest from local entrepreneurs to collaborate on the service delivery are being sought with this announcement. The board will work with the individual or group entrepreneur to help facilitate the business plan.
We expect the Dillon report/business plan to be ready before the new year. Our board will continue to look for public transportation opportunities and is willing to share the considerable knowledge that we have gained; both through research studies and through the operation of the bus through our pilot project with the new entity.