By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Cobourg is hoping to end the spectre of its WHEELS Transit riders being left without transportation through a memo of understanding with Community Care Northumberland to help out.
Director of Public Works Laurie Wills blames the widespread driver shortage that extends far beyond the town – not only municipal transit systems but school buses – for having to curtail WHEELS hours of operation and, in some cases, being unable to provide rides that clients have booked.
“We have had times when we have not been able to fulfill our rides that have been booked in advance, which is very disruptive to anyone utilizing this service,” Wills said.
“It has become a lot less reliable than we would like our public-transit system to be.”
Century Transportation Ltd., which provides the service, is working on recruitment in order to fulfill the obligations of its contract with the town, she said. In the meantime, the agreement with Community Care provides for the ability to call upon their services any time when WHEELS cannot provide a ride it has committed to.
It also ensures that the second half of round-trips that have been booked will be supplied, Wills added – there have been times when a client has booked a round trip, but is stranded because the afternoon-shift driver did not come in.
It applies only to rides that have been pre-booked, she stressed, and does not apply to the conventional transit service whose hours have also been shortened due to staffing challenges. As far as she is aware Wills said, the same concerns have not been expressed by that ridership contingent.