Le Transport de Clare Is Nova Scotia’s pioneer community-based accessible transportation service. It was launched in 1996 by a group of community partners, spearheaded by Claredon Robicheau, who was then Director of C.O.R.D (Clare Organization Representing Persons With Disabilities). Le Transport obtained independent Registered Charity status in 2007.
The startup capital to purchase the first van came from a federal program, but did not cover the full cost, or provide for insurance, office equipment or other expenses. The Municipal Council, all Clare service organizations and six prosperous local companies were approached for sponsorship and, within three months, enough capital was raised to purchase and put the van on the road.
Prior to the launch of Le Transport, the most vulnerable members of our community-- persons with disabilities, seniors living in isolation and the economically
disadvantaged—had little or no access to participation in the daily life of our community. Ambulances were often needed for non-emergency medical trips or to convey frail seniors from their homes to long-term care facilities.
Since its inception, Le Transport has achieved annual increases in ridership and budget amounts, as well as adding new vehicles to our fleet as finances allow. Target markets are continually being identified and pursued, to both increase ridership and avoid branding stigmas, such as the one that limited our public image in earlier years when we were perceived as “the handicap van.”
Le Transport’s growth has progressed from logging approx 20,000 kms. and 4000 passenger trips annually to logging over 380,000 kms. and 26,000 passenger trips. This ongoing development and expansion of transportation infrastructure, matched by a corresponding expansion of community partnerships and financial support, not only benefits the clients, but adds immense value and growth to the social and economic capital of the communities we serve.
Outreach and mutually collaborative relationships with other stakeholders contribute to a high level of sustainability by providing diverse sources of funding and multi-sectoral support. Le Transport generates revenues from posted fares, charter and institutional contracts, private donations, and advertising on the vehicles. And, since 2010, the service has expanded into the adjoining community of Weymouth, and in 2012, to Digby, both of which were previously under-serviced. We now serve all of Digby Co. Donations from local businesses and service organizations, the first funders of the system, continue to help cover the cost of subsidized rides.
The social and economic benefits of le Transport continue to impact many aspects of community life, including positive aging, economic development, poverty reduction and healthy lifestyles. For example:
Le Transport provides a vital link to enabling seniors to live independently and remain in their own homes longer. (Part of NS “Senior’s Positive Aging Strategy”.)
• Le Transport is the primary provider of accessible transport for Clare’s sheltered workshop (since 1996), organization for the mentally challenged (2008) and two long-term care facilities (since 2006 in Clare; 2009 in Digby), eliminating the need for the latter to maintain their costly and under-utilized institutional vehicles.
• Through various community sponsors Le Transport now subsidizes approx. $30,000 worth of trips annually. In addition, service clubs, individual and corporate sponsors and taxpayers benefit from one system that services its clients at home, in senior apts. or long-term care institutions, thus avoiding expensive and inefficient duplication of service.
In 2010, Clare Council initiated a Municipal Planning Strategy and residents cited adoption of a strong public transportation system as a top priority. In 2011, le Transport partnered with Council on research examining the logistics of potential service and route expansion of Le Transport as opposed to contracting an outside service. Documented feedback reaffirmed the public’s priorities for le Transport and how it has positively impacted their lives.
During 2015 - 2016, Le Transport underwent major restructuring of management and staff, and moved to a new location with ample parking to accommodate the entire fleet. Cathy Theriault, a highly motivated young woman with keen entrepreneurial skills, and a vision for future growth and expansion of services, is now well into her second year as Manager. Cathy has developed electronic dispatching, filing and billing systems, implemented a rigorous and ongoing driver’s safety protocol, increased efficiencies of service and improved routes, and maintains a welcoming presence in Le Transport’s highly visible main road office suite for staff, drivers and the general public.