Carole Lavigne, director for economic development and tourism, presented an update on the PR Transpo project to the United Counties of Prescott-Russell council (UCPR) during its October 9 committee of the whole session. The regional public transit service is almost ready to roll out but one mayor on UCPR council expressed some concerns about whether PR Transpo might become a financial burden.
“I don’t want this to become a thing where we spend $2 million just for the sake of spending $2 million,” said Mayor Pierre Leroux of Russell Township, referring to the latest subsidy cost to the City of Ottawa to help maintain its OC Transpo system.
Mayor Leroux suggested that PR Transpo should have a financial sustainability study included as part of its project guidelines. Lavigne told UCPR council that PR Transpo is a four-year pilot project financed by a provincial government transportation fund grant, while OC Transpo is a service that Ottawa started on its own initiative. One of the goals of the PR Transpo project, she noted, is to determine if there is sufficient ridership use and demand for the service that a private sector outfit would be encouraged to take it over.
During a later interview, Lavigne noted that the UCPR may now be eligible to receive a provincial gasoline tax subsidy. Ontario municipalities, like Russell Township, which have a public transit service in operation receive a share of the provincial gas tax bases on gasoline sales within their community.
Final selection was made of the 12-route schedule for the regional transit service and Lavigne’s department is getting final partnership agreements signed with the UCPR’s eight-member municipalities for locations and maintenance of the bus stops assigned to each community. Leduc Bus Line is contracted as operator for PR Transpo, with buses running Monday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Arrangements are in progress for ticket sale outlets.