Trans­port needs so­lu­tions and not piece­meal ones

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

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.

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