Morinville Community Bus Revived for Summer Service Following Successful Pilot

by Colin Smith

The Morinville Community Bus is on the move again this summer.

The bus will be operating on an ongoing basis following a pilot project in 2023.

Funding for the operation of the bus was included in the 2024 budget.

Community Development Supervisor Barb Anderson presented a report on the community bus pilot project to council at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 27.

The community bus was introduced in 1990, at first providing services only to seniors 55-plus and people with disabilities, then later expanding to all population groups.

But the newest town-owned bus hadn’t been used since March 2020, partly due to Covid-19 restrictions, and during budget deliberations, it was proposed that it be disposed of to produce about $42,000 in operating and annualized capital cost savings.

A population engagement survey done in the summer of 2022 showed a lack of interest in a community bus service by a majority of respondents, but continued public engagement indicated desire for such a service on the part of seniors.

Representatives of the Morinville Seniors Rendez Vous Club emphasized to council the value of the bus for club excursions and the willingness of its members to work with the town and other groups on programming and scheduling.

The proposal to dispose of the bus was rejected by council, which called on administration to come up with a plan for a bus service pilot project.

The result was a pilot project to provide bookable service access, social and educational excursions, along with group rentals, primarily catering to seniors 55+.

The bus service was provided by a charter operator and received grant funding from the New Horizons for Seniors Program.

Initially planned to run from April to September 2023, the project was extended to December, for a total of nine months.

Uptake of the service was not as great as expected. The number of excursions was projected at 14, with 182 participants, but the actual result was eight excursions, with 102 participants. Rather than 12 group rentals, there was one.

Both the budgeted revenue and expenses were down, but the drop in expenses was larger, resulting in a net of $4,448.20 to the good, instead of the forecast $348.12.

According to Anderson, this year, the community bus should be in operation by June.

The bus project will provide planned excursions for youth, seniors and other community residents.

Its aim is to enhance social connectivity and accessibility for Morinville residents, particularly those with limited transportation options.

“By providing regular outings and transportation for these outings, the project will address mobility challenges, promote active participation in community events, and support the well-being of residents,” stated Anderson.

The service will use the town-owned community bus rather than the buses employed in the charter pilot project.

In response to a question by Councillor Maurice St. Denis about efforts to promote the service and increase the number of users, Anderson said a communications plan is being developed.

St. Denis also asked about a partnership with the Rendez Vous Club.

“The Rendez Vous continues to be an important partner as we continue with this project,” Anderson replied.

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1 Comment

  1. The advertising had all been stating that it was for seniors last year; Of course any other age groups are not going to see it as an option!

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