South Shore Breaker
‘We are creating a better community’
Queens County Transit increasing the quality of life
It’s all about helping people.
“Within the County of Queens, transportation impacts the lives of individuals living,” said Tara Smith, vice-chair of Queens County Transit.
“Whether they’re living in isolation, living in poverty, living on a fixed income, or living with accessibility issues, transportation is a huge factor in their life.”
In 2018, the County of Queens saw a void that needed to be filled. A group of individuals decided to create a non-profit transit that was not only accessible but affordable.
“Our main mandate is to help reduce social isolation within our community and help support individuals living well in our community,” said Smith.
Without this service, there wouldn’t be accessible public transit within the community. Smith says this was not only important to implement but a necessity.
“Oftentimes individuals who require assistance with mobility don’t have access to affordable transportation and that is another thing we provide; affordable transportation means.”
Smith says there is not a certain group or demographic they target; their service is for anyone.
She also believes what the organization provides for the community is what sets it apart from other transit options
within the province.
“The biggest factor that sets us apart is the wheelchair accessibility,” said Smith. “Also, the ability to go to all parts of Queens County … this is the only public transit system in Queens other than taxi services.”
Smith adds how she and her team can travel all over the province, including areas such as Bridgewater, Halifax and The Valley.
Queens County Transit offers two different types of transportation options. One is door-to-door which will pick you up from your home and drop you off at your desired destination. Their second is a group transportation option.
All that is required to obtain access is to book one day in advance.
Smith says since their launch they have had an impact on the community.
“Our ridership only continues to increase, even through the pandemic. People in the community are happy that this is finally happening. People of the community have not only been thankful but grateful for the creation of this transit.”
Smith believes she can take it a step further. She says this is only the start for Queens County Transit her hope for the future is to become even more accessible for those in the community.
“As long as we can secure funding, I have plans to grow this operation much larger,” said Smith. “We are looking at implementing many programs for those in the community. One is hospital pickups when a patient is discharged. We will partner with the hospital in that regard. We also have plans to implement a volunteering program where if one of our vehicles isn’t available a volunteer will be able to provide you service.”
She adds the organization will be implementing two new initiatives on April 4 and May 18. One is a program for seniors and the other is a way to increase the social element for passengers. Smith is excited to get these off the ground and have them fully functioning within Queens County.
And while she is eager to continue growing, Smith considers what she has already created to be successful.
“This is a full-circle moment for me,” said Smith. “Within my lifetime in Queens County, it has all been about how we make Queens County a better place for people to live. Whether I do that in public service, organizations, or local politics, whatever it may be, it has always been my mission to support individuals living well within the community. It makes us feel so good that we are creating a better community.”