Research, links and avenues to help

Case Studies

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Every Nova Scotian has appointments to keep. Not every community offers the means to get there.

In small town Nova Scotia town, a youth hefts his backpack over his shoulder as his bus rumbles to a stop. Instead of stopping at the local High School, he continues down the street and hikes 10 blocks to a very important appointment at the local food bank. There he fills his backpack with his family’s share for the week. Living under the poverty line in rural Nova Scotia, the school bus is his only means of transportation.

As a result, he misses school one day a week to feed his family.



Alphonse Martell, Cape Breton

Alphonse Martell travels three times a week from his home in Little Anse, Cape Breton to Strait Richmond Hospital for dialysis appointment – because of Strait Area Transit.

Debi Wadden is a county councilor in Pictou County. She is privileged to serve one of the most beautiful and potentially tourist friendly places in Nova Scotia. Her constituency encompasses one of Nova Scotia natural treasures Melmerby Beach Provincial Park. With its usually warm water and long stretch of sandy beach, it is a jewel in the crown of Nova Scotia’s park system.

Debi is also a supporter of CTNS and the work it has gone in past with CHAD. Debi is on the board of CHAD and is very familiar with the excellent service CHAD brings to Pictou County. She also knows that expanding the CHAD mandate to a full service provider has been a struggle. But she appreciates that when someone calls her office with a transportation issue she has a solution. Debi knows that CHAD will transport her constituents to whatever appointment they need to meet. She works hard to change the perception that CHAD as only a service for the physically and mentally challenged. She now sees that CTNS has a role in her future plans.

Debi wants to use services of CTNS. Six years ago an enterprising group of concerned citizens formed an organization called Little Harbour Pathways which is dedicated to mobility access and sustainability in the Little Harbour Area. They have worked diligently with Natural Resources to build a series of walking paths at the north end of Roy’s Island an adjunct to Melmerby Beach Provincial Park. After years of planning and successfully working with the Natural Resources this project will be realized this summer – a job well done.

Another group of citizens, with Debi’s support would like piggy back on the success of the pathways group to build a sidewalk system linking Melmerby Beach with New Glasgow. Their vision is to see children safely ride their bicycles from New Glasgow to the beach and back again. The health and wellness implications are enormous for the residents of New Glasgow and Little Harbour. The side walk system would enhance and provide significant economic spinoffs for the numerous tourist industry providers in the area including: B&Bs, cottage rentals, a campground and a convenience store.

Debi Wadden needs CTNS to help her and the group move beyond the local focus and to help them navigate the red tape at the municipal and provincial levels in order to get this project on track. She needs a trusted partner to give the group advice, support and resources.

What does South Shore Helping Hands, a pilot project of Seniors Helping Seniors program, need from CTNS?  Simply, South Shore Helping hands needs a vehicle to promote and support this brilliant grassroots solution to every community in Nova Scotia.  Leslie Taylor Community Coordinator states:

“This is a model that could work all over the province but it needs provincial scope, an organization like Community Transportation Nova Scotia (CTNS) that takes this story and shares it provincially and provides the support to communities to build the capacity to organize themselves to respond in a similar manner.”

What is South Shore Helping Hands (SSHH)? It is a classic grassroots organization that has tackled a profound mobility issue in its community. It is community capacity building at its best. A sustainable mobility model that can, and should be replicated throughout rural and urban Nova Scotia.

Not only is SSHH addressing a need and building community but it is also saving the health care system money. How does SSHH serve the community and cut costs? Case in point in the autumn of 2015 SSHH was contacted by two different social workers requesting transport for two dialysis patients for treatment in Liverpool three times a week. The patients were being transported by Emergency Health Services personnel in an ambulance.  The expense to the healthcare system was enormous.  So alternative was found. SSHH worked with the dialysis unit and tweaked the schedules so both patients could go at the same time. As a consequence a roster of 12 volunteers was created, each taking a turn to drop off or pick up once every six weeks.

“So now we are saving the government four times the original amount…  Plus we have 12 individuals who can feel good about helping their neighbors.” says Leslie Taylor.  Here are some more statistics.


Key Services Offered January 1 – November 10, 2015
Number of people helped 78
Number of volunteers 64
Medical and Dental Appointments 219
Other Appointments 224
Total 443
Number of Referrals by Government Agencies 26
Total Number of Referrals 231


The human stories behind these statistics are that every Wednesday a patients is driven to Liverpool for dialysis. This lengthy process involves a one and half hour round trip there for the first driver and patient.  Then in almost six hours at the end of the dialysis treatment the patient is retrieved by a second driver for a roundtrip of one and half hour journey. In  November 2015 alone SSHH facilitated trips to Halifax which included , two clients for hip replacement and follow-up appointments, an eight-year-old boy allergy appointment at the  IWK and an client’s eye specialist appointment.

The next step is for CTNS, with its provincial scope, to support and promote the South Shore Helping Hands as a model sustainable mobility project.

CBRM was scheduled to drastically cut funding and services to CBRM Transit.  With CTNS’ leadership in convening community conversations in 2014, a Task Force was formed with participation from diverse groups including: CBRM staff, councilors, Public Health, CTNS, CBU, CHB’s, to name a few.  Their rationale was to preserve and enhance community transportation in CBRM.  Their process included community consultations throughout CBRM, community forum with key stakeholders, and a report to CBRM and the province.  Their findings showed a significant need for community transportation, substantial practical challenges, and a need for new ideas, partnerships and renewed investments.


The Case for Investing in Community Transportation was: “The world has changed in ways that make community transportation not only a necessary service for those most in need of alternative transportation but a strategic investment for the community as a whole.”  Increasing the focus has been on:  keeping people healthy, socially engaged and economically active.  This means addressing issues upstream rather than paying much higher costs downstream.  Identification and development of local leadership with partnerships will develop solutions with the community to make a regional economy and service area work.

On a snowy day in January, a student driving to school along a lonely rural road stops to pick up an elderly woman. She has picked her way along the narrow gravel shoulder of the road hitchhiking 15 km into town to do her banking and buy groceries. Another important appointment.
All Nova Scotian communities

Research Articles

Click on each title below to display the link

TATA Transit Feasibility Study
Cost-Benefit Analysis - Small Urban and Rural
Cost-Benefit Analysis of Rural and Small Urban Transit, U.S. Department of Transportation, North Dakota State University, Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, Small Urban and Rural Transit Center

Evaluating Public Transit Benefits and Costs
Evaluating Public Transit Benefits and Costs, Best Practices Guidebook – Victoria Transport Policy Institute. (February 25, 2015)

10 Community Case Studies - ON
Accelerating Rural Transportation Solutions, Ten Community Case Studies from Ontario
Transportation Benefit-Cost Analysis - USA
This website is maintained by volunteers affiliated with the Transportation Economics Committee of the Transportation Research Board (TRB).  It is based upon a site hosted by the California Department of Transportation Office of Transportation Economics.  The original site was created by the California Center for Innovative Transportation at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California at Berkeley and the Planning, Economics and Finance Committee of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Small & Rural Travel Options
Improving Travel Options in Small & Rural Communities – FCM
Coordinated Rural Transportation - ON
Towards Coordinated Rural Transportation: A Resource Document, The Rural Ontario Institute

Transportation Services Links

Click on each service below to display the link

Rural Transportation Association Nova Scotia

Door-to-door, accessible transportation services for residents of rural Nova Scotia.



Service Nova Scotia

Contains listings and details of programs supporting community transit systems



Community Links

Promoting healthy lifestyles for Nova Scotia seniors



Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities

Advocacy and information for Nova Scotians with disabilities


Metro Transit

Public transportation serving Halifax, Dartmouth, and surrounding communities


Canadian Urban Transit Association

National association advocating and supporting public transit systems


CSC-NS - Community Sector Council of Nova Scotia

CSC-NS is the Community Sector Councile of NS.  There are 6 regional coordinators and each has a newsletter that are good for each region.


CHAD Transit

CHAD Transit is a critical part of the non-profit community in Pictou county. They help the disabled, seniors, and anyone else who is transportationally disadvantaged.


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