Cathy Thériault is the manager of Transport de Clare, a non-profit charity organization that provides subsidized transport to anyone requiring a ride within Digby County. Thériault presented to Digby Municipal Council at the Apr. 24 meeting, asking for additional funding for the organization.
The data she shared with the group indicated an increase in 10,000 passengers last year, which created a need for more staff.
The data also indicated 27,303 passengers were adults while only 2,702 were seniors, dispelling the common conception that seniors use the service the most.
“We’ve found the greatest need for this transport is to take people to social outings,” said Thériault.
“We always thought it was mostly seniors who had trouble getting out to socialize, but we’re finding adults are having issues as well.”
Since the organization relies mostly on government funding, it must follow strict guidelines about what to charge and when to charge it.
Digby County contains four zones – the Municipality of Clare, Barton through to Bear River and including the Town of Digby, Weymouth and the Digby Neck. Rides within each zone cost $20, but once the vehicle leaves a zone, the cost switches to 70 cents per kilometre travelled.
“People simply cannot afford these prices,” said Thériault.
“We tell people to pay what they can, which hardly ever comes close to what 40 cents per kilometre would cost.”
Thériault has instead been charging 40 cents, a price which she says 75 per cent of people still cannot afford.
During her presentation, Thériault recalled a retired fisherman who’d requested a ride some weeks ago. The driver and the man got to talking and the man revealed it had been over five years since he’d last been to the wharf he’d fished from.
The driver drove him there for no extra charge.
“Those five minutes that man spent on the wharf made him so happy. This goes to show that small acts such as that one go a long way towards making people happier,” said Thériault.
The organization capitalizes on chartered rides, which are not subsidized. The vehicles can be chartered by anyone and have been used for day trips to the Halifax Casino and for taking groups to the Digby Pines golf course.
The group also does chartered runs for school sports teams. Thériault said she’s heard from teachers and parents that when using one bus instead of several separate vehicles, the kids play better, behave better and have more fun.
The group has received some help from within Digby, including a $1,000 donation from the Digby Legion in March. Thériault said this along with charter profits wouldn’t sustain the organization, which is why they have asked the municipality for increased funding.
With almost 38,000 passengers last year alone, the organization has continued to grow and assume larger costs.
“We are aiming to make the cost more equal for everyone, and more money is the only way we can make that happen,” said Thériault.
To contact the group about booking a car, call toll free at 1-888-769-2477. To make a donation, contact Thériault at 902-769-2333 or at email@example.com.