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le Jeudi 2 juillet 2020 13:24 | mis à jour le 8 avril 2022 19:22 Tribune-Express (Hawkesbury)

Uncertain future now for PR Transpo service

The future for the PR Transpo project may now rest with the provincial government. The project received provincial financing to get underway but ridership numbers have not been high during the few months of operation before the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in suspension of the regional transit service. Now the United Counties of Prescott-Russell will ask the province whether or not it can use the rest of the PR Transpo program grant for other transportation-related needs. — archives
The future for the PR Transpo project may now rest with the provincial government. The project received provincial financing to get underway but ridership numbers have not been high during the few months of operation before the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in suspension of the regional transit service. Now the United Counties of Prescott-Russell will ask the province whether or not it can use the rest of the PR Transpo program grant for other transportation-related needs.
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Whether or not Prescott-Russell’s public transit project continues to run may depend on the opinion of the provincial government.

The future for the PR Transpo project was one of the main topics for discussion during the June 24 session of the United Counties of Prescott-Russell’s (UCPR) economic development committee. Warden Pierre Leroux, who sits on all of the UCPR’s advisory committees, expressed concern about whether the regional transit system will prove financially viable.

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“I have my doubts that a private operator will be willing to take it over,” Leroux said.

Both Alfred-Plantagenet Mayor Stéphane Sarrazin, who chairs the economic development committee, and Casselman Mayor Daniel Lafleur, who sits on it, expressed optimism about the future viability and need for PR Transpo.

The UCPR received a provincial government transportation fund grant to finance a four-year pilot project for rural public transit. The province is funding similar pilot projects in other communities. One of the goals of the projects is to determine if there is sufficient demand for rural public transit to make it viable enough to attract the interest of the private sector.

The original plan for the PR Transpo project was to have it in operation last summer in time to benefit from the tourism trade. But unforeseen planning delays saw the regional transit system roll out the beginning of last October instead.

PR Transpo operated for about five months before the COVID-19 pandemic situation resulted in its suspension. Carole Lavigne, UCPR economic development director, noted during a later interview that the ridership numbers started to show a definite increase in January and February of this year. Whether that increase would have continued into the spring, she added, is unknown because of the pandemic.

The economic development committee directed Lavigne to find out from the provincial government whether or not the UCPR must use the PR Transpo project’s transportation grant to continue operating a regional public transit service or if the grant can go towards another transportation-related project.