Moving transportation forward

Published Jan. 8 2019

Dear Warden Danielsen and members of Haliburton County Council:

Congratulations on your appointment as warden for the county for the next year. It is always reassuring to your electors to see our representatives step up to the plate.
Over the past decade Rural Transportation Options (RTO) has been working first to alert the community to the need for public transportation and then to encourage the county council to establish a transportation system which will fit with our community needs and our community demographics and geography. RTO has been joined in this work by the transportation taskforce. Representatives from social service agencies from municipalities and from civil society make up the taskforce. In November 2017 the taskforce presented to county council a business plan for a locally appropriate transportation system which would incorporate existing services with a booked shared-ride service to form a transportation system. County council allocated $50000 in the 2018 budget and hired IBI to prepare a transportation implementation plan based on a booked shared-ride service.

There are transportation services in the county. However they tend to have a specific clientele and specific reasons for accessing the service. Citizens who do not have a car are unable to engage in the life of the community whether it be a lunch with friends curling church bingo or movies. Without a car people are unable to get to jobs. This summer some of our businesses had difficulty finding employees due in many cases to both the lack of housing and the lack of transportation. It is these gaps in services that a booked shared ride service will fill.
In September 2018 IBI presented its initial report to the transportation taskforce and to county council. We were confused by this presentation as the report seemed to misunderstand the concept and implementation of the proposed booked shared ride service. The service outlined in the initial report bore a strong resemblance to a fixed route service a transportation option we know will not provide a good service to the citizens of Haliburton County.

Unfortunately the September session that IBI held with the taskforce was an information session not a consultation. We are disappointed that through this whole process IBI has not tapped into the experience of the transportation taskforce (as a group or as individuals) or of RTO or any other agency. We ask that IBI consult with the taskforce in order to inform its final report to county council.
We also ask that county council through its budgeting process allocate funds to continue implementation of the booked shared ride service as well as support for the transportation taskforce. Losing this expertise would be a real blow to transportation in the county. We also ask that county council include funding in the county budget for a transportation co-ordinator who can facilitate the implementation of a transportation system. To get work done you need hands and brains.

We thank the previous council for accepting that transportation is needed and for taking the initial steps in bringing transportation to us. We will cheer on your new council as you implement the booked shared ride service. By the end of this council’s term let’s have Haliburton transportation!

Heather Ross
Chair Rural Transportation Options
on behalf of the RTO Committee