Citizens With Disabilities - Ontario
"TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER"

         



Two New Buses Have Rolled Into Port Hope

Posted By Cassin, Joyce

Public works director Peter Angelo said the town started making plans for an expanded transit system in 2004 when the gas tax rebates were first announced, and on Thursday, January 31, the two buses finally arrived at Town Hall for a ribbon cutting ceremony.

The buses have been custom-made to Port Hope's specifications and include features such as low floors with hydraulic ramps for easy accessibility, an audiotape to announce the bus stops along the routes for the hearing impaired, and stop request buttons on all seats for those with upper arm mobility problems, says Accessibility Committee chair Selena Forsyth.

At this point the seats are grey, as are the floors, but Ms. Forsyth says the seat colour will be changed so as to make it easier for vision-impaired people to determine where the seats are.

"When people think of accessibility, they think more of people in wheelchairs," Ms. Forsyth said. "But there are all kinds of impairments.

"Port Hope has the most accessible buses," she added.

At this point, the old bus will be retired and one of the new buses put into service, with both buses going on the road once the budget and the routes are approved.

"We have $600,000 in the 2008 budget and I heard the budget has been approved to be presented to General Government," said Mr. Angelo.

To reduce greenhouse gases, the 2008 models contain a more efficient engine that meets more stringent emission standards and have 24 seats and accommodation for up to two wheelchairs with 18 seats.

Two bus routes have been proposed, but Mr. Angelo said the western route is still subject to change.

Both routes are 24 minutes in length to allow for seamless transfers at the "hub" at the Town Hall.

"From a public works perspective, we're like kids in a candy shop - woo hoo hoo!" Mr. Angelo said.

Mr. Angelo says he is also proud of their two new slogans - Ride to Reduce and Access for All - which received a much more prolonged "woo hoo hoo hoo" from Ms. Forsyth.

"Our aim is reduce all obstructions," said Mr. Angelo. "We're very proud of our system and we hope you'll find it as enjoyable and pleasurable as we do."

"It's a great day in Port Hope to launch this," said Mayor Linda Thompson. "Communities our size often don't have transit systems."

She said that they're providing longer hours of operation as well as the expanded routes, and these routes will link with other municipal partners.

Bus routes will be revised annually to ensure the highest level of service is being provided, based on the resources available to the municipality, says Mr. Angelo.

Once approved, buses will run from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Friday and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Cost is $2 for adults and $1.50 for seniors and students.

Northumberland-Quinte West MPP Lou Rinaldi attended the ceremonies and said he was pleased to be a part of Port Hope's success story, and that Port Hope has now accomplished what the provincial government's aims were.

"When we announced the gas tax, our aim was to improve ridership, expand service and equipment and reduce emissions," he said. "You're about 15 years ahead of our projections.

"As an MPP, it's really rewarding to see the fruits of our vision," he said.

"This is really important for people with disabilities," said Ms. Forsyth. "It's very exciting."

She added that the next step for her committee is to expand the service out to the Ward 2 area.

"We have disabled people in Ward 2 who have disabilities and pay their taxes," she said. "The need is there, but we can't do it all at once."

The total cost for the two buses was $412,103.60. Gas tax funds covered $336,021, with the balance of $84,136 from the Ontario Bus Replacement Program. Article ID# 884264

Reproduced from http://www.northumberlandtoday.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=884264.

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