Alberton - Transportation West Inc. announced on Saturday plans to add a new paratransit van to their fleet that serves seniors and people with mobility challenges.
With three-way funding from federal and provincial governments, as well as Transportation West Inc., the new 11-passenger van will replace a 2007 model that’s racked up more than 400,000 kilometres.
Allan Clark, chairman of the Board of Directors for Transportation West Inc., says tenders are due this week.
“This type of funding to help update our fleet is essential because we do rack up a lot of kilometres on the vehicles throughout the year, so it’s important that we maintain a safe fleet that will continue to provide transportation for our clients,” said Clark.
Transportation West Inc. is a non-profit community organization and registered charity born in 1999 out of a need for affordable transport in the West Prince area.
Richard Blanchard, a paratransit driver, says the valuable service improves quality of life.
“When I first started (more than four years ago) I met a woman who hadn’t been to church for over a year because of her wheelchair, so we take her to church every Sunday and she really appreciates it… they really depend on you.”
One of the biggest issues facing seniors and people with mobility challenges is isolation.
Sheldon Dyment, a retired bus driver, continues to serve his community and keep people connected under Transportation West Inc.
“I take one fellow to mass on Christmas Eve, and then he goes to his daughters for the evening, and then I take him to the home care after. Its just things that I feel like doing to help others,” said Dyment.
The new van will help drivers to continue providing a reliable and safe form of transportation to clients throughout the region.
“Our service has been around for 18 years, and essentially the service we provide helps improve the quality of a life for seniors and folks with physical disabilities who may be limited to their homes and not get out in a social aspect,” said Clark.
He continued, “And we have a close working relationship with Community Inclusions Ltd."
Pat Murphy, Minister of Rural and Regional Development, on behalf of Paula Biggar, Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy, said investments in infrastructure help economic growth on P.E.I.
Bobby Morrissey, MP for Egmont, thanked the volunteers behind the organization providing the valuable door-to-door transport service. He also acknowledged it’s a battle to keep people in rural areas, and having reliable and safe transportation supports Islanders’ independence and autonomy.
“We have increased a hundred fold in the last six years with passengers using our services,” said Kelly Gillis, internal manager for Transportation West Inc. “And safety is paramount when it comes to transport.” Transportation West Inc. is putting in a third of the funding for the vehicle, as well as looking at more partnerships with similar groups.