Maritime Bus owner wins 2019 John Pearce Award

Mike Cassidy, president and owner of Maritime Bus, (left) accepts the John Pearce Award for 2019 from TAA president Ted Bartlett.

Transport Action Atlantic has selected Prince Edward Island entrepreneur Mike Cassidy as the winner of the 2019 John Pearce Award. The citation was created by the association two years ago to commemorate the lifetime achievements in public transportation advocacy by Mr. Pearce, a founding father of TAA’s predecessor Transport 2000 Atlantic, a past president, and long-time member of the board. John passed away in Dartmouth NS on June 6, 2019.

The award is given annually to recognize an outstanding contribution to the public transportation cause. This year’s selection committee chose to recognize Mr. Cassidy primarily for his determined efforts to rescue and maintain scheduled intercity motorcoach service in the Maritimes. In the fall of 2012, his company stepped in where others had failed, and is now in its seventh year of successful passenger and parcel operation from Halifax and Sydney NS to Rivierè-du-Loup QC, serving most towns and cities in the region on a daily basis and providing onward connections to Quebec and Ontario. The citation also noted his success in providing urban transit in Charlottetown PEI, and his ongoing advocacy seeking government support for a national bus network in Canada, following the failure of Greyhound West.

Advocacy award honours John Pearce

TAA Treasurer Don MacLeod presents the inaugural John Pearce Award to John Pearce (seated). Looking on, from left to right, are TAA board member Michael Perry, President Ted Bartlett, and Membership Secretary Christine Mills Garnet. (Photo – Tim Hayman)

How does an organization appropriately acknowledge more than four decades of dedicated service to its cause?  When president emeritus John Pearce advised his TAA colleagues last summer in a brief e-mail that his health no longer would permit him to maintain an active role, that question immediately arose.  The answer came from vice-president Ashley Morton: establish an annual award in John’s name to recognize outstanding public transportation advocacy.  And, let’s further honour John by naming him as the first recipient.

So it was that following the TAA fall board meeting on November 18, a delegation visited the Dartmouth seniors complex where John and his wife Karen now reside to personally present the annual award plaque and the recipient’s “keeper” trophy.  It was obvious during the brief ceremony that, although age and health issues have forced him to the sidelines, they have not diminished his commitment and enthusiasm for the cause.

John joined Transport 2000 Atlantic in the mid 1970s, served for many years as its president, and remained an active volunteer and board member as the organization rebranded itself as Transport Action Atlantic.  His primary focus was always passenger rail, and until less than a year ago he could be frequently found in the Halifax VIA station, promoting the cause and chatting with passers-by and railway employees.

The John Pearce Award will be given annually to a group or individual demonstrating outstanding effort in the field of public transportation advocacy.  A selection committee will be established to invite nominations and choose the winner each year.

The physical award. The names of each year’s recipients will be added to the main plaque, and each individual will also receive a smaller trophy to keep.