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Operators of Accessible Transportation in Rural Areas "starving of Cash"

Editor's Note: This article is reprinted from the Chronicle-Herald, December 4, 2004.

Accessible transportation in rural Nova Scotia is not sustainable with current funding, says the chairman of the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities.

Claredon Robicheau says rural operators of accessible transportation services need more money because of a rise in demand.

"They are starving of cash," he said.

Mr. Robicheau said 92,000 passengers a year use the services, up from 60,000 two years ago.

He said the province allocates $10,000 for each vehicle and there are 20 vehicles serving seniors, people with disabilities and low-income earners in eight Nova Scotia counties.

"We are saying $10,000 funding toward a $90,000 vehicle is not sustainable in the long term," Mr. Robicheau said.

He said the amount should increase to $20,000 per vehicle so operators can provide quick and efficient service to those in need.

This would also reduce ambulance costs, he argued.

"Imagine a senior calling an ambulance to see a dentist, does that make sense to you?" he asked.

Mr. Robicheau was speaking in an interview on the occasion of the League for Equal Opportunities releasing its report card grading the province\'s political parties on their policies on accessible transportation.

The categories include technical aids, home care and support, accessibility, transportation, education, housing and relations with the disabled community.

The Tories received a C-minus, the NDP a D-plus and the Liberals an F.

Jerry Pye, the NDP critic for seniors and people with disabilities, said he was disappointed with his party\'s grade.

"Mind you, our party has put in close to 67 pages worth of information regarding what we have done on behalf of the disabled community in Nova Scotia in the last year," he said.

The report card is commendable, Mr. Pye said, but there ought to be a better way to evaluate parties that are not in government.

Mr. Robicheau said the report card is intended as a working document to seek solutions.

"We do not intend it to be a negative issue," he said.

Community Services Minister David Morse could not be reached for comment. Liberal transportation critic Russell MacKinnon also did not return calls.

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