City seeking new Parabus partner
The City of North Bay will be issuing a request for proposals for an operator to take over the Parabus service.
PHARA ( Physically Handicapped Adults’ Re h a b i l i t a t i o n Association), which has long operated the service, announced in April it is terminating its Parabus program agreement with the city as of July 31.
PHARA issued a media release last month indicating it was a difficult and challenging decision not to renew its involvement in the program.
Mayor Al Mcdonald told local media Thursday the service will be continuing. However, to be fair, the RFP process must take place.
“It wouldn’t be fair to give the contract to one company. This process will give bidders and those who want to respond time to put together a package.”
Mcdonald said the city could bid.
“PHARA does a good job. We have wonderful men and women ( who drive the bus) and we hope their service continues when the PHARA contract ends this summer.”
Under the agreement, PHARA provided the drivers and the city provided the buses and covered expenses such as fuel and repairs.
The costs associated with the service are estimated at about $ 30,000 per month.
Nipissing- Timiskaming MP Anthony Rota, Mcdonald, local media and transit manager Remi Renaud spent the morning touring bus stop improvements and the public works office on Franklin Street in a new Parabus vehicle.
Renaud said the vehicle, which can accommodate nine people, including the driver, and offers a ramp boarding system, went on the road last week.
The cost of each vehicle is about $ 115,000. The city purchased two to improve scheduling and flexibility, as well as reduce its environmental footprint.
The city’s contribution was $ 130,000, the federal government pitched in $ 60,000 and the province contributed $ 42,000.
Renaud said the city is mixing its fleet to respond to various demands.
He said the demand for Parabus service is increasing with an aging population.
Renaud highlighted some of the improvements the city’s transit department has made to improve its service.
He said 12 concrete pads were laid last year near popular transit stops to assist people in wheelchairs and walkers.
“We recently purchased solarpowered shelters that provide interior lighting. These shelters are located in areas that don’t offer a lot of lighting.”
The new shelters are located throughout the city, including Gormanville, Mckeown, Sage and Birchaven.
“The new shelters, which are being put up this summer, will provide safety for passengers and help operators.”
The total investment in concrete pads, shelters and sidewalks totalled $ 314,000 - $ 30,000 from the city, $ 157,000 from the federal government and $ 127,000 from the province.
Mayor Al Mcdonald and Nipissing- Timiskaming MP Anthony Rota walk through on of the city's two new Parabuses.