By Richard Bell
With a presentation before the HRM Standing Committee on Transportation at the end of March, MusGo Rider took another step towards establishing a Fixed Loop Transit Service along Highway 207. The proposed 40km loop would run from Porter’s Lake Terminal along Highway 207 to the terminal in Portland Hills, with a connection to Cole Harbour Place.
Halifax Transit’s bus route 401 serves part of this area now, from Portland Hills along Highway 7 to Porters Lake and then down the 207 terminating in Seaforth, with no service along the shore south and west of Seaforth. And Halifax Transit is planning to terminate this route altogether in 2020.
“David Hendsbee’s the one who got us going on this,” said Jessie Greenough, executive director of MusGo Rider. “He’s been talking about this since the day I showed up four years ago. But we just weren’t in a position to do anything, because we had so much else to do first.”
At the HRM Transportation meeting, Greenough presented the results of a feasibility study. “How we have to get enough grant money to put together a complete business plan,” Greenough said. “The Transportation committee has asked staff to do a report, which is what we were hoping for, to look at issues like how to deal with transfers from our bus onto Halifax Transit’s buses, and vice versa.”
In the feasibility study, fares were set at $3 for adults, and $2.50 for children, students, and seniors. “Fares will only provide about 25-30% of the revenues,” Greenough said. “Halifax Transit gets 70% of its operating budget from HRM.”
There are two MusGo Rider services: MusGo Rider, which recently became a registered charity, serves the western portion of the Shore. MusGo Rider Valley Sheet Harbour is a non-profit serving the Musquodoboit Valley and Sheet Harbour. Last year, the two services drove about 250,000 kilometers. “In March alone, we drove people to move than 200 medical appointments,” Greenough said. “Altogether we drove 800 people about 30,000km in March.”
The proposed fixed service will use 15-seat buses, as opposed to the 6 vans that the two MusGo Rider companies now operate. “We’re working as hard as we can to get this in place by the time Halifax Transit closes the 401 bus,” Greenough said.