Transport needs solutions and not piecemeal ones
The announcement by Transport des Alentours that they will offer a carpooling platform is a nice step that will well serve the region in its transportation needs but it still looks like another band-aid for a gaping wound.
There is no way that a non-car owner can live in this region. Period. You can manage; you cannot live. You can manage with the help of friends who will take you to Magog or Sherbrooke if you need to go, but you will be at their mercy. Taking the taxi is prohibitive for most.
Still, they are essential and we believe are not only part of the solution but are the solution. Not something that is experimental, that would need reinventing the wheel, but a daily working system such as one not too far from the region, in Victoriaville. There are dozens more in Quebec. So it is not something that needs a brand new learning experience in administration.
The system is simple. You register with the Taxibus organisation at a minimal fee and you reserve your ride before. There is a schedule of Taxibus rides available and they follow routes. This is not a door to door service.
The cost is not much. In Vicoriaville, inside the city, right now it is $2.75 with a monthly pass available for $90. Obviously, what we need is also some way of getting to Magog and Sherbrooke; the cost should be higher then. The effect on our communities would be great. First the drop-out question: Both the well-known drop-outs from school and then the worst kind: those that drop from the community. We all know the first one; since it also exists in big cities, it is wellresearched. To the hundreds of reasons that young teens find to drop out of school add another one around here: Why finish high school when you cannot physically go to Cegep? For most of you reading this, this is farfetched, but not so for a youngster from a poor family. Then there is the kid who physically drops out of the community. He no longer resides here, he is not counted as a resident for the statistics that feed our towns and villages. Not literally, monetarily. The subsidies that Quebec and Ottawa gives to our towns and villages are based on their population. Lose a soul, lose a lot of money. So, every time one of our youngsters leaves us to study at the Cegeps in Sherbrooke, we lose. And Sherbrooke gains a couple of dollars every time. And these kids usually don’t come back. Because we cannot retain them, all the money that we have spent educating them, what we consider an investment in the future less than an expense, is gone. Public transportation would assure that a good number of them would choose to stay when they are in college; some may even at the university level.
This is only one aspect. People need to shop, our retail offering is minimal. People need hospital care. People need access to inter-city buses. The list goes on.
This chicken and egg dilemma can easily be solved by looking very closely at the public transport report that the MRC will publish soon. Mayors should get involved so that it is not a Magog centric solution, but one that serves the whole MRC.
We need a comprehensive plan, one that we can afford, that protects and strengthens what we have, the local taxi industry, and that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg creating a new bureaucracy. We believe that the Taxibus is that solution and we hope that this is the last editorial on the matter.