Transportation Models on the Avalon Peninsula

This community based research aims to inform and support the Avalon Regional Council of the Rural Secretariat in the development of policy recommendations and advice to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador on the development of local transportation models for the Avalon Peninsula. Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has committed to allocate one million dollars to enhance transportation for seniors by partnering with community organizations (PC Party of Newfoundland & Labrador, 2011). The need for affordable and reliable transportation for seniors, as well as other groups of transport disadvantaged, has been stressed in several local studies.

Based on the specific criteria identified by this research, development of a subsidized demand responsive door-to-door transportation service (DRT) is recommended to address this need. DRT is an optimal solution for areas with a low passenger demand, as it operates only when booked in advance. It offers a more individually tailored service, compared to the conventional transit service, which is especially appreciated by seniors.

In particular, this research recommends developing a centrally coordinated Volunteer Driver scheme. This scheme provides a very personalized service with flexible pick up and drop off points. Volunteer Driver scheme can optimize the existing volunteers’ input and open up this service to a greater number of users. Being the least expensive of the DRT schemes, however, it might not be able to address all the needs due to a limited availability of the volunteers. Thus, it is recommended to combine the Volunteer Driver scheme with semi-flexible or semi- scheduled types of DRT. These types still offer the convenience of being picked up at home (or another indicated location), but the destination points are limited to certain locations, such as a grocery store, hospital or medical center, seniors’ day care center, recreational facility, etc. These schemes can be offered once or twice a week in order to increase patronage. This research also recommends other categories of the transport disadvantaged into provision of transportation services in the region. This could have a positive impact on the social and economic development of the area and further increase the patronage.

While Volunteer Driver scheme utilises volunteers’ own vehicles, the semi-flexible or semi-scheduled schemes would need a designated vehicle(s). This research recommends exploring the three options for the vehicle allocation: contracting a local taxi (a car or a minivan) or mini-bus operator; purchasing a vehicle (a minivan or a mini-bus) and supplement its use by chartering it to local organizations if sufficient demand exists; or purchasing a vehicle (minivan or mini- bus) to be used jointly by two or three neighbouring Zones, serving each of them on a selected day(s) of each week and providing coordinated trips to St. John’s. However, the ownership option inevitably implies expenses on maintenance, insurance and driver’ salary. It also needs a back-up option.

Further research on defining and estimating the travel needs of local seniors and other transport disadvantaged groups, as well as an inventory of existing transportation services is required to finalize the choice for the most suitable transportation model and optimal vehicle allocation. This report recommends developing a partnership or a working group consisting of the representatives from local organizations, targeted population groups, transport operators and funding bodies to facilitate this preliminary research, develop, implement and operate a transportation model. Based on the geographical layout of the Avalon Peninsula, travel patterns of its residents and optimal scale for the partnership, this research recommends implementation of a local transportation model in each Economic Zone with possible coordination of the occasional trips to St. John’s or between the Zones.

Research Team and Partners

Project Outputs