2020-09-30

Bridgewater’s buses out of commission

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>FILE PHOTO</p><p>Happier times. Lunenburg West MLA Mark Furey, second from left, with Bridgewater Mayor David Mitchell, as Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Leo Glavine, right, and Lunenburg MLA Suzanne Lohnes-Croft looked on in April, 2019. The province had announced funding for a new Bridgewater Transit bus during a news conference at the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre in Bridgewater.</p>

The wheels of the buses in Bridgewater are not going round and round, at least not for a little while.

Just a year and a half after the Town of Bridgewater established its permanent transit system, its two buses are out of commission.

Bus 523 went out of service around mid-September, while Bus 524 was suspended on September 28. Neither had passed its regular six-month safety inspection by the motor carrier division of the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and and Infrastructure Renewal.

According to Patrick Hirtle, communications coordinator for the town, Bus 524 requires repairs mostly relating to "rust and rot."

"That work is being carried out by Fleet Tech and will be completed as soon as possible – we know how much our community has come to rely on Bridgewater Transit in the three years it's been in operation, and getting the bus safely back on the road is a high priority," Hirtle told LighthouseNOW in an e-mail.

Once repairs are completed, an inspector will be booked to review the work.

"As soon as the bus is given the green light it will return to the road. While it's hard to put an exact time frame on it, this does unfortunately mean we're going to be without transit service for a several days," Hirtle said on September 29.

Work on Bus 523 is not being given priority because it will be a more costly repair, "but largely because we are anticipating the arrival of the first of two brand-new Bridgewater Transit buses in the very near future," explained Hirtle.

The transit program started as a test project in September, 2017, with the Halifax Regional Municipality donating two Metro X buses and the province later kicking in $200,000 to help fund the service.

The program was made permanent in March, 2019.

Two new transit buses were expected to arrive in Bridgewater by March, 2021, at a cost of $431,000.

Civic politicians recently authorized Alberta-based Western Canada Bus to provide the new low-floor, wheelchair accessible buses that can each seat 18 passengers.

"We were recently told by the builders that the new buses are ahead of schedule and we are expecting the first one to arrive in early October – the exact delivery date hasn't been confirmed yet," said Hirtle.

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