After five years of hard work by the Southwest New Brunswick Transit Authority (SWNBTA), a twice daily bus service from southern Charlotte County to Saint John is finally posed to become a reality. On Thursday, the province of New Brunswick announced a $500,000 investment to launch the proposed bus service as a 2-year pilot project.
Here is the press release from New Brunswick Department of Transportation and Infrastructure:
ST. STEPHEN (GNB) – The provincial government is investing $500,000 to help provide affordable bus transportation through a community led pilot project in southwestern New Brunswick.
“Public transportation in our regions is important to the New Brunswick economy,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “It also helps improve New Brunswickers quality of life. This community led pilot project will help residents of Charlotte County and Saint John connect. It will also ensure southwestern New Brunswick businesses have the logistical support they need to get their products to markets.”
Funding will be provided to the Southwest New Brunswick Transit Authority Inc. to establish a two-year pilot project for bus transportation between communities in Charlotte County and the city of Saint John.
“It is tremendously rewarding to see the provincial financial support that is the result of our five-year, grassroots vision to establish an integrated transportation service for Charlotte County residents,” said transit authority president Stan Choptiany. “The entire board of the Southwest New Brunswick Transit Authority, and the public in general, are greatly looking forward to the Rural Lynx-Maritime Bus service commencing this fall.”
The project calls for Rural Lynx, in association with Maritime Bus, to provide twice-daily, seven-day-a-week passenger bus and parcel service between St. Stephen and Saint John, with proposed stops in Saint Andrews, St. George and Pennfield.
“With the province’s support and the will of the local communities, Maritime Bus is looking forward to travelling the roads of southwest New Brunswick and having its passenger and parcel freight network extend to St. Stephen,” said Maritime Bus president Mike Cassidy.
The need for affordable, accessible and available rural transportation in New Brunswick is strongly supported by many provincial studies, task forces and reports. These make clear the many benefits of public transportation. Employment opportunities, poverty reduction, access to health care and post-secondary education and training, enhanced business opportunities, tourism, age-friendly communities, social inclusion, retention of immigrants, and personal and social well-being, together with rural viability and self-sufficiency, are enabled by the provision of greater mobility for all.
Transport Action Atlantic has been deeply involved in this initiative from the outset, and it was high on the agenda in several meetings with provincial cabinet ministers.
Through the entire process, the leadership and vision of the former mayor of Saint Andrews, Stan Choptiany, cannot be emphasized enough. As chair of SWNBTA from its inception, he has guided the board through the labyrinth of government funding sources while tirelessly maintaining contact with his community of potential riders. He has clearly demonstrated his belief in rural public transit as an essential public service.
TAA will continue to support this pilot as it moves to implementation. It is hoped this project will provide a template for other regions wishing to establish rural transit.