REXDALE, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 10, 2012) - The Amalgamated Transit Union fully supports the idea of a not-for-profit bus line in the Maritimes, says Stan Dera, Director of the ATU Canadian Council.
Acadian Bus Lines has just announced it is ceasing operations in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. "Intercity bus transportation is part of the country's overall surface transportation network and holds particular importance for smaller and rural communities, where air or passenger rail travel options are not available", says Dera. Intercity bus service also provides a transportation option that is more affordable than air or rail, when those services are available, which is significant for many residents in rural areas.
"This withdrawal of service impacts the young and the elderly, as well as lower income families in a disproportionate manner, as these groups are the primary users of rural bus services", Dera says. "A new intercity bus system needs to be created…and fast."
But, the Amalgamated Transit Union doesn't think another private sector company should take over Maritime intercity bus transportation. "Acadian's experience shows us that some services cannot be delivered better by the private sector", Dera states. "A not-for-profit organization should provide intercity bus transportation for the Maritimes", he says, "so that we have a sustainable, accountable system that serves the needs of these provinces."
Dera points out Saskatchewan has been doing just that since 1946 when it created the Saskatchewan Transportation Company, a provincially owned crown corporation in charge of the provincial transportation system. "Their fares are comparable to privately operated routes and they provide service to all areas of the province. The same should be done in the Maritimes to protect public transportation for everyone," says Dera.
In the Amalgamated Transit Union's view, there would be a number of positive benefits of a not-for-profit transportation system. "There would be service to all communities in the region, both large and small. There would be greater accountability and control over service and routes. It could create employment through agency agreements for ticket sales and provide jobs for drivers who will shortly be laid off. The benefits of such a system would remain in the region and would not be drained off by a corporation with no ties to the area," says Dera.
Dera encourages all citizens of the region to get involved in the discussion. "Contact your local politician and ensure they give this idea thoughtful consideration. You deserve it", he says.
The Amalgamated Transit Union is the largest labour union for transit workers in North America with over 180,000 members. The ATU membership includes bus, subway, light rail and ferry operators, clerks, baggage handlers, mechanics and others in public transit, inter-city and school bus industries.