On Saturday, March 18th, TAA hosted the first of what we hope will be many events for our members. This event was targeted primarily towards our members in Nova Scotia, as we set out on an excursion from Halifax to Truro and back. At noon, seventeen TAA members (including our Vice President and several members of the board) gathered at the VIA Rail/Maritime Bus station in downtown Halifax and boarded Maritime Bus Route 103 to head to Truro. As we boarded the bus driver commented that this was an unusually busy trip for that time on a Saturday…we doubled what he guessed would be a “normal” load!
Despite running slightly behind schedule the bus trip was smooth and uneventful, with only two short stops in Dartmouth and at the airport. The chatter on board throughout the trip was full of discussion about public transportation locally and farther afield!
Upon arrival in Truro we made our way to the Engineroom Pub, where we enjoyed lunch before migrating over to the adjacent VIA Rail station. The waiting room was surprisingly busy – it seems we weren’t the only ones making the trip in to Halifax! Our wait in the station gave us a chance to talk a bit more about what TAA was up to, and provide an opportunity for members to provide feedback on what they thought we were doing well (or not so well), and what they’d like to see us do in the future. There were some excellent ideas floated during this chat.
Before long, the station agent announced that the arrival of the train was imminent, and we made our way out to the platform. The Ocean arrived, running only slightly behind schedule, and we made our way on board. The Service Manager had set aside a full coach for those boarding in Truro – between our group and the others boarding there (including several families with children), we pretty well filled the whole car!
The train ride back seemed to be enjoyed by all, and the sun even came out in full force to highlight the lovely scenery on the run into Halifax. Some chose to sit back and enjoy the ride, while others continued to talk about the many challenges and opportunities facing public transportation in the Maritimes. The train made up a few more minutes of time on the way, and arrived in Halifax just shy of 15 minutes late.
In the evening, we hosted a talk and panel event featuring Susan Williams (VIA Rail, Eastern General Manager), Wayne Groszko (Ecology Action Centre) and Mahmudur Rahman Fatmi (Dalhousie University). Susan led the session with a presentation on VIA’s current and future plans in the Maritimes, and then all three panelists engaged in a discussion about regional public transportation, driven by questions from the audience.
If you weren’t able to attend the evening discussion, you can see a video of it on our Facebook page. This was our first attempt at a “Facebook live” stream, and though our camera setup was improvised on the spot (we’ll have to work on that next time!), it has provided us with a video record that we can share with those who couldn’t be with us in person.
Check it out on our Facebook page, or below.
Special thanks to our three panelists for giving us their time on a Saturday evening!
Of course we’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who joined us on Saturday for our excursion, the evening session, or both! This event was a great success, and we were really encouraged by the turnout and the engagement of everyone who joined us. We’re already starting to think about options for a summer event, and we hope to soon be able to plan events in other parts of the Maritimes as well.
Hope to see you all again soon!