Region of Queens Municipality Public Transit Exploration


Clients: Service Nova Scotia & Municipal Relations, Ecology Action Centre, Region of Queens Municipality

Partner: Dr. Muhammad Ahsan Habib

In a rural municipality, with a relatively low population density, dispersed settlement areas and aging demographic, designing and implementing a public transit system that meets residents’ needs and is feasible from a cost perspective can be challenging. Despite these challenges, investing in public transit service is critical to ensuring the long-term sustainability of rural communities.

Cities & Environment Unit and Dr. Muhammad Habib were contracted by the Ecology Action Centre to explore options for providing public transit service in the Region of Queens Municipality, with a focus on making the best use of existing resources. The final report compiled includes an assessment of the need for transit in the Region, four possible models for providing transit service to residents, and a plan for delivering a pilot of the preferred public transit model. Residents who participated at the public sessions contributed to the development of a set of Guiding Principles meant to guide the design of a transit system for the Region; these residents see transit that is accessible and affordable for all as an investment in maintaining and enhancing the quality of life in the Region of Queens.

While designing a public transit service for the Region is challenging given the relatively small and dispersed population, this study illustrates that opportunities do exist and that a model for providing service is feasible and has great potential for success. Using the significant number of empty seats on the fleet of school buses currently operating in the Region is a tremendous opportunity to provide transit service to residents with minimal additional capital and operating expenses. This idea, although somewhat unconventional, has been successfully tried in at least 30 communities across Canada and the United States. The school bus model, combined with a dial-a-ride component, is ultimately identified in this study as the preferred model for the Region of Queens context. Moving forward with the delivery of this service is a unique opportunity for the Region to take the lead on providing public transit service using this innovative approach. The success of the service would lead the way for other Nova Scotia communities, and would be a source of pride for Region of Queens residents.