The City of Humboldt continued to investigate options for transit services at its Monday night regular monthly meeting. Feedback from the community showed that Humboldt was in need of some type of available transport for inside the city and to nearby destinations since the demise of the private taxi service.
The City adopted a report provided by contracted firm Dillon Consulting. The stated purpose of the report was to “review the transportation demands and needs within Humboldt and the surrounding area, and recommend an optimal service option.” The report, part of the City’s study, analyzed the highest demand for service areas and highest demand destinations.
The report presented three main internal transport options: a taxi service, a fixed route service common to larger cities, and on-demand transit in the style that’s currently provided by paratransit services.
To best accommodate the range of options, the report recommended that Humboldt prepare to provide three services:
• An accessible paratransit service, continuing the current Mobility Van service;
• An on-demand shared-ride service, offering rides that are shared with other passengers and are partially subsidized, and;
• A premium door-to-door service, emulating the taxi service that was previously offered.
In addition to the recommendation on types of service, the report outlined avenues for funding through federal and provincial grants and other financial support options. The two targeted support options are The Rural Transit Solution Fund, a federal program that could provide up to 80 percent of proposed vehicle acquisitions, and the provincial Transit Assistance for People with Disabilities (TAPD). That option could provide for up to 75 percent of a replacement vehicle for paratransit service up to a maximum of $55,000.
Procurement of the vans is one thing. The ongoing costs of running the service presented Councillor Rob Muench with a degree of concern.
“I’m not saying we don’t need some type of service, but I like the idea that if we apply for these grants, we’re not committed to doing this,” offered Muench. “I think we still have to have a little more discussion around this table as to what route we’re going to take and how it’s going to pan out. I like the idea of easing into it.”
Muench advocated re-examining a private taxi service and potentially offering a subsidy to maintain it.
In the end, councillors voted to accept the report from Dillon Consulting as filed, and they approved the application for the two grants to support the purchase of vehicles on the understanding that if they were granted they funding, they need not proceed with the purchases.