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Changes coming to Access-a-Bus in early January

Halifax Transit is looking to decrease wait times and booking times, develop an app
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A Halifax Transit bus (Meghan Groff/

Waiting for a bus that never comes is a hallmark of a winter in Halifax, but those who need more accessibility are waiting even longer. 

The Access-A-Bus service, run by Halifax Transit, runs a fleet of accessible buses that can be booked for trips for disabled users who may have a harder time getting around. 

"If we are going to build a robust transportation network here in HRM, it has to include a very good conventional service--which are the big buses--but it also has to look at a lot of our clientele that we would classify as some vulnerability," said manager of transit operations Mike Spicer.  

"They can't do the same things that we can do, so we do have that specialized transit system that allows them to be part of the community and move through the community the same way that everybody else does." 

One of the biggest complaints of the service however, is that rides have to be booked a week in advance. There is also a lack of communication on when a bus will arrive. 

Halifax Transit is looking to make some changes and improvements, including offering same-day booking and shorter wait times for Access-A-Bus users. 

Currently, users are given a 30 minute window for when they will be picked up, something Spicer thinks is "somewhat inconvenient." 

"When we do launch our new system, it will allow us to be able to give someone a five minute or ten minute call ahead, or a text, to say we're on our way so now you can be ready," he told NEWS 95.7's Todd Veinotte. 

Further down the road, Spicer hopes to launch an online app, which will allow for real-time booking and updates. 

He also hopes to see Halifax Transit do a better job at educating its users on what services can provide. 

"In some cases... they could actually get from their origin to their destination quicker by using fixed route systems, they've just never understood that, and we have to do a better job in explaining what our services do"

According to Spicer, there are about 2,000 active Access-A-Bus clients. 

"We'll run 35 buses per day, and that's what will work. We're not in a position where we think that we're going to be over-utilized at this point," he said.

Spicer says they will be presenting their findings to the transportation standing committee in early January, and hopes to get the support from council needed to move forward with these changes. 

"If we need to look at this as a whole network, accessibility becomes a part of that, and the need for us to be able to move people in HRM is a priority."

Danielle McCreadie

About the Author: Danielle McCreadie

Danielle spent a year freelancing for various publications in Halifax and did a brief stint at before making the move to radio.
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