Sault Transit to Conduct Review of City’s Parabus Service

By LORI BALLSTADT
Posted July 16, 2011

Sault Ste. Marie Transit will undergo an operational review in the upcoming months that includes an analysis of the city’s parabus service.

The HDR/iTrans Corporation will conduct the operational review. This company is familiar with Sault Ste. Marie’s transit system as the same group co-ordinated a Transit Fare Collection Technology Assessment for Sault Transit in 2004 and developed a Ridership Growth Plan in 2005.

“Over the years the city has contracted transportation consultants to primarily review regular bus service and now, with the aging population, it is important that we look at how public transportation, including the parabus system, can meet the needs of our community as baby boomers begin to retire,” says Don Scott, manager of transit and parking.

The parabus provides specialized, curb-to-curb public transit for persons with physical disabilities that prevent the use of a regular transit bus. Individuals who use mobility devices, such as a wheelchair or walker, are also eligible to ride the parabus.

Eligible users are required to complete an application form with the help of their doctor. Application forms are available online at www.cityssm.on.ca

— search parabus transit — or can be picked up at the transit office at 111 Huron S., across from the Ontario Travel Information Centre.

Parabus runs Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 12 a.m., Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Advance booking is required by calling 705-942-1404.

The municipality has operated the parabus service since 1974, with input from a transit sub-Committee, formerly known as the parabus advisory committee.

Diane Morrell, transit sub committee member and chair of the local Accessibility Advisory Committee, considers the review essential to the effective operation of parabus.

“The Accessibility Advisory Committee is pleased to support the operational review of transit services. By creating dialogue between Sault Ste. Marie parabus service providers and its users, we will have a better understanding of which areas of service are working well and what areas may be improved as we work toward full community participation for all our citizens,” Morrell says.

There are currently 3,088 registered parabus clients (1,259 are ambulatory and 1,829 are confined to wheelchairs) receiving specialized transportation.
The fleet consists of 10 vehicles that operate in conjunction with contracted taxi service for ambulatory riders. Last year, parabus vehicles accumulated
a total of 222,000 kilometres transporting 47,171 passengers and their attendants.

The parabus operational review will solicit input from multiple sources and will consider several factors with an overall goal of improving daily operations, client access and long-term efficiency.

Users of the parabus system will be asked:

  • How well do we meet the needs of parabus customers and caregivers?
  • What areas of operation can be improved upon?
  • Should low-cost vehicle alternatives be considered during periods of low demand?
  • How can we improve efforts to carry more passengers per hour of service?

The transit division is looking for public input. Parabus riders and their family members are encouraged to provide comments and suggestions.

A focus group session for parabus users will be held on Aug. 16 at the Sault Ste. Marie Accessibility Centre office located at the John Rhodes Community Centre. The session will be held from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Please contact
s.caron@cityssm.on.ca if you plan to attend the focus group session. Your input is important.

Individuals unable to attend the focus group session can forward comments by email to transit.review@cityssm.on.ca
or call the transit office at 705-759-5438, Monday to Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Input gathered during the review process will assist with the development of a five-to-seven-year plan that identifies ways to achieve an acceptable level of parabus service that is affordable for the municipality.

A review of regular transit services will be undertaken as well. Comments and suggestions pertaining to regular transit are welcome and can be emailed to transit.review@cityssm.on.ca

For general information on bus fares and route schedules, please visit the City’s website at
www.cityssm.on.ca –search transit services — or to plan your personal destination, Google SSM Transit Trip Planner.

Lori Ballstadt is the corporate affairs officer for the City of Sault Ste. Marie.

Article ID# 3217256

Reproduced from http://www.saultstar.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3217256