N.B. government announces half a million dollars for bus service pilot project
Published Thursday, July 27, 2017 8:00PM ADT
The New Brunswick government announced on Thursday that half a million dollars in funding for a two year pilot-project to reestablish bus service in the province’ southwest.
The Maritime bus service that travels from Saint John to the international border and back hasn’t been on the road for five years, but will be returning to the Maritimes.
Stan Choptiany, of Southwest New Brunswick Transit Authority, says the service has left thousands of people stranded.
"In our data we figure, there’s at least 25 per cent of people who have no access to a car on any basis,” he says.
New Brunswick Premier, Brian Gallant, says the government is hopeful that the two year project will be one other regions can explore.
"And we're hopeful that after the two years we're going to see that this is a success and we'll be interested in taking this model and using it in other regions across the province,” says the Premier.
For decades, the border area was linked to Saint John by SMT bus lines and Acadian Lines. The bus service came to an end in December 2011 and never returned.
Some St. Stephen residents say the need for the service never went away.
"I'd use it myself in the wintertime, you know if the roads were not so great I'd say, hey, I don't have to worry about the storm I'll get the bus and come home,” says Diana Planetta.
"People coming down to work at Ganong factor. I think there will be people who will get up to Saint John for work with it,” says St. Andrews resident John Castell.
The Maritime bus service will be offered twice daily, seven days a week, with passenger and parcel service.
Long term sustainability for the service will depend on how many people become regular riders.
Maritime bus owner, Mike Cassidy, says there’s a timeline for the plan.
"We are going to be working toward 75 passenger fares per day, on average, after the two year period,” Cassidy says.
The new service is expected to start in September.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron.