Canada Funds Rural Public Transit on the Acadian Peninsula
A brand-new public transit system is en route for the residents of Canada's Acadian Peninsula, a rural area in the province of New Brunswick on North America's east coast. On January 20, 2023, federal and local politicians visited the village of Inkerman, population 2,413, to announce a federal investment of more than C$1.14 million for the project.
The Acadian Peninsula Regional Service Commission is receiving over C$1 million to implement the new transit system to serve the small cities and villages in the region. The Commission plans to acquire six propane-fueled regular buses and one accessible bus, which will provide service on the regular routes. Five new minivans will connect more remote areas to the regular routes.
Signs will identify pick-up and drop-off points, two propane tanks will allow for refueling, and an in-vehicle point-of-sale system and bike racks will be provided.
The Acadie-Bathurst Zone with a population of about 77,600, includes the region's largest city, Bathurst, population about 12,000, and the Acadian Peninsula.
Serge Cormier, Member of Parliament for Acadie–Bathurst, told the crowd on hand for the exciting announcement, "We have been waiting a long time for this transit system to connect our rural areas. This is a turning point for the future of our communities! Public transit makes getting around easier, reduces travel costs and can even provide a welcome break in the day. A service like this is a major asset in welcoming new residents to our riding of Acadie-Bathurst!"
Started last July as a pilot project, the transit system will be the first of its kind in the region, where private vehicles have served as the only transportation option for residents.
In addition, the Association francophone des municipalités du Nouveau-Brunswick has received a $50,000 grant to conduct a feasibility study on the design and implementation of a public transit service in the Chaleur region. This diverse collection of coastal towns and villages is located in northeastern New Brunswick on Chaleur Bay, an arm of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence between Quebec and New Brunswick.
The feasibility study will analyze the viability of such a service and propose different scenarios for access to services in the region.
Yvon Godin, president of the Association francophone des municipalités du Nouveau-Brunswick (AFMNB), told those gathered for the announcement, "The establishment of public transit in rural areas is an issue faced by many of the members of the AFMNB. … We are proud to participate in this project which will undoubtedly have positive benefits for our members and the people of the community."
THE PROGRESS OF THE PUBLIC TRANSIT PROJECT IN THE ACADIAN PENINSULA, AND NOW IN THE CHALEUR REGION, GIVES HOPE THAT ALL RURAL COMMUNITIES IN NEW BRUNSWICK COULD EVENTUALLY BENEFIT FROM SUCH A SERVICE FACILITATING ACCESS TO THE LABOUR MARKET, HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION, INCREASING THE RETENTION OF YOUNG GRADUATES AND NEWCOMERS, AND IMPROVING ACCESS TO PUBLIC SERVICES.
President of the Association francophone des municipalites du Nouveau-Brunswick
These projects will help the ongoing development of an inclusive and sustainable transportation strategy. Public transit systems encourage independence and resiliency among those living in rural areas, leading to improved economic, social and environmental outcomes in these regions, the politicians said.
Rural Transit Solutions Fund Expands Access
The Government of Canada's funding for these projects comes from the Rural Transit Solutions Fund, <https://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/rural-trans-rural/index-eng.html> which is providing C$250 million over the five years from 2021, to help Canadians living in rural and remote areas get around their communities more easily.
Now, the federal government is expanding that access. Starting January 20, applications to the Rural Transit Solutions Fund, Capital Projects stream are being accepted on a continuous basis. This stream helps cover capital costs like the purchase of vehicles or digital platforms, as well as to support the purchase of zero emission vehicles.
The Rural Transit Solutions Fund supports the development of rural transit solutions, including new transit service models that could be replicated or scaled up. A minimum of 10 percent of the $250 million Fund will be allocated to projects that benefit Indigenous populations and communities.
This is the first federal fund to target the development of transit solutions in rural, remote, Northern and Indigenous communities. Launched in 2021, this Fund provides $250 million in federal funding to support the development of locally driven solutions that help people living in rural communities get to work, school, appointments, and visit loved ones.
The Fund is not designed to support long-distance inter-regional travel routes that connect cities across regions, provinces, and territories.
RURAL COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY KNOW BEST WHAT WORKS FOR THEM WHEN IT COMES TO PUBLIC TRANSIT. WORKING TOGETHER WE WILL CREAT MORE INCLUSIVE COMMUNITIES AND ENSURE RURAL CANADA REMAINS AN INCREDIBLE PLACE TO LIVE, WORK AND RAISE A FAMILY.
Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities
By investing in infrastructure, the Government of Canada is growing our country's economy, increasing the resiliency of our communities, and improving the lives of Canadians, Minister LeBlanc said, announcing the new funding at Inkerman.
One in five Canadians live in rural communities. Rural communities in Canada account for nearly 30 percent of the nation's gross domestic product.
In February 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a Liberal, announced nearly C$15 billion in available funding for new public transit infrastructure projects over the next eight years, with a permanent $3 billion annually to begin in 2026-27.
The Rural Transit Solutions Fund complements Canada's strengthened climate plan, "A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy." The plan commits the federal government to provide permanent federal funding for public transit in support of making clean and affordable transportation available in every community.
The initiative is most welcome on the Acadian Peninsula said Georges Savoie, Mayor of Neguac, a village at the southern end of the Acadian Peninsula, who also serves as vice-president of the Acadian Peninsula Regional Service Commission.
"The addition of a public transit service will facilitate the mobility of our residents in a context of specific demographic challenges," Mayor Savoie said. "Whether it is to improve access to the job market, health care and education, or to help retain young people and new immigrants, the Acadian Peninsula must have such a service in order to ensure its viability."