Changes to Public Transportation Assistance Program TransporAction threatened

Added: Wed, 06/21/2017 - 10:54pm
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Allyson Beauregard

MRC PONTIAC – A recent change to the Ministry of Transport's (MTQ) Public Transportation Development Assistance Program could threaten the future of TransporAction's services if an exception is not granted for rural areas.
As stipulated in Article 48.19 of the Transportation Act, funding would apply mainly to organized transportation services – those offering organized routes using company equipment with paid drivers. This means that in 2018, TransporAction, whose survival depends on volunteer drivers who use their own vehicles, would no longer receive financial assistance to cover their volunteers’ travel expenses. “The funding will still be there, it isn't being cut, but we cannot use it to pay volunteers,” said Sylvie Bertrand, TransporAction Director General, noting the funds could be used to pay for taxis, or buses.
TransporAction has access to two taxi vans, 2 mini buses, and 1 promaster that also offer adapted transportation. “If these vehicles are busy, there aren’t other options for those needing special services,” said Bertrand, explaining they are also much more expensive to run. Compared to the 48 cents per kilometre given to volunteers to cover gas and maintenance of their vehicles, it costs $1.60 a kilometre for the minibuses and $1.25 for the taxi vans. With the population spread over a vast territory, group travelling is not feasible.  
“This change puts TransporAction in jeopardy,” said MRC Pontiac Warden Raymond Durocher who, along with his regional counterparts, is awaiting confirmation of a meeting with Transport Minister Laurent Lessard to discuss the matter. “During our preliminary talks, Minister Lessard had promised special status for Outaouais MRCs whose populations are spread over vast territories and depend on TransporAction to access health and social services,” he added. 
TransporAction already suffered a big funding cut last year when the amount they receive from the MTQ was reduced from $100,000 to $75,000. As Bertrand stated, if an exception is not made, they will not be able to cover as many trips as in the past (given the higher costs and limited vehicles), resulting in a significant increase in costs for users. “Without funding for volunteer drivers, this service would no longer be accessible to those most in need,” concluded Durocher.