Transportation in Prince Edward County
In Prince Edward District, our Women’s Institute ladies certainly know how working together can achieve great results.
Lack of accessible transportation in Prince Edward County was evident, so in 1989, Women’s Institute members formed a committee to study this situation.
Over a period of years the committee prepared, distributed and analyzed questionnaires to study community travel patterns and transportation surveys were carried out. Consultations were held with groups/organizations who provided services for people with physical and visual handicaps. We held public meetings with representation from Ontario Ministry of Transportation and local hospital administrators. For many years we lived the transportation dream.
In March 1994 a committee of Women’s Institute and local council members hired a bus to tour Grey, Bruce & Perth Counties, visiting and observing their very busy and successful accessible transportation systems.
All the preliminary legwork was completed, including meetings with interested firms to obtain commitment for the provision of a vehicle and administration. The proposal was waiting to be endorsed when in 1995 the government in Toronto changed and priorities changed, including the Rural Transportation Initiative. Disheartened, the committee was inactive for a number of years but fund raising namely our Art & Craft Show continued.
In 2001 a motion was made to reinstate the original transportation committee and meet with other community groups such as Community Care For Seniors, Prince Edward County Council, Friends of Prince Edward Health Care, Prince Edward & Lennox & Addington Social Services, Cheshire Home and the Quinte Health Care Picton Site Administrator. More transportation surveys were conducted. A Rural Community Transportation Subsidy Proposal was drafted and sent to County Council who endorsed the idea. Prince Edward County and two other Ontario communities were to be set up as a pilot project for Model Communities Program through a Trillium Grant proposal. After a wait of many months this proposal was denied.
Undeterred, our committee consulted Quinte Access, a successful accessible transportation provider in a neighbouring community to explain the operation of their system. They urged us to “jump in and create a similar structure”. While waiting to establish a more permanent transportation system, we subsidized a local businessman using an accessible wheelchair van.
In 2004 we learned that there might be monies from the “Dedicated Gas Tax Fund for Public Transportation Programs” available to new transportation systems. Our committee went back into action and on April 13, 2005 a draft proposal was presented and accepted at the Corporate Services Committee meeting. On July 25, 2005 it was accepted at council with full support of WI members in the gallery at that time.
After 18 years of hard work with many ups and downs and a strong belief in the dream of accessible transportation, the new bus complete with WI logo was finally unveiled on June 1, 2007 in Picton.
Prince Edward District Women’s Institute donated $100,000 over the first five years from funds raised at its annual Arts & Crafts Sale. The W.I. now donates $5000 annually. It was expected to cost $90,000 to run the service annually, with approximately $37,000 coming from the municipality, $6,000 from user fees, $20,000 coming from the W.I. and another $25,000 coming from the province’s gasoline tax program for municipalities with a transit system.
Riders must be Prince Edward County residents, have a physical disability or be 65 years of age or older. People are required to register by filling out an application prior to the first trip being granted. Rides are prioritized based upon the eligibility criteria and must be booked at least 24 hours in advance.
The rider ship has grown steadily with over 1000 registered users. As of 2012 there are 6 buses now providing door-to-door service from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. daily four days per week.