After years of planning, the Town of Stony Plain and the City of Spruce Grove are gearing up to combine their two accessible transportation services into one. The current HandiBus Program and Specialized Transit Service (STS) will merge to establish a single Accessible Transportation Service (ATS). The ATS will be operated by the Town of Stony Plain in collaboration with the City of Spruce Grove.
Through the HandiBus and STS systems, both Stony Plain and Spruce Grove have provided door-to-door transportation services to seniors and residents with physical or development disabilities for many years. Recognizing each service would benefit from expansion, both neighbouring municipalities have worked together to create a unified Accessible Transportation Service. The collaboration process, spearheaded by the Inter-Municipal Collaboration Committee (ICC), involved a comprehensive review of accessible transportation services to determine the most efficient method to support residents in the region.
“The HandiBus Program has been largely funded by annual operating dollars with a smaller portion funded through user fees. The service’s fleet purchases have been the result of generous donations by the Stony Plain Lions Club,” says Melanie Samson, Stony Plain Manager of Community Programs and Services. “There is no doubt the program has benefited our residents, and this is clear when you look at the HandiBus’ growth. We’ve seen a 190% increase in ridership over three years. The HandiBus is delivering services well beyond its capacity.”
The ATS is for seniors aged 65 plus and persons over the age of 16 with disabilities. STS users aged 55 to 64 who are already registered will maintain their eligibility for the service. “Current HandiBus and STS users will not need to re-register – their information will automatically be transferred to the new system,” says David Wolanski, the City’s General Manager of Community and Protective Services. “The booking process will remain the same for HandiBus users and moving forward, former STS clients will direct their calls to the ATS office in Stony Plain rather than a Spruce Grove location. Punch cards will be available for purchase at the front receptions of both the Town and City Offices as well as from the drivers.”
Merging the local service will allow for an expanded transportation program without the big price tag. By combining municipal resources, no additional fleet purchases will be necessary and current drivers for both programs will work together. Fares will also become consistent for passengers as Stony Plain and Spruce Grove will be a single zone with a flat $5.00 fee. Whether you are a Stony Plain or Spruce Grove resident, you can expect an increase in availability and frequency of trips.
“Having accessible transportation available to residents helps alleviate mobility barriers. All residents should be able to engage with and explore their community,” says Stony Plain Mayor William Choy. “We are hopeful that the new ATS will encourage individuals who may face challenges when it comes to finding transportation. Being able to get out and explore will allow for greater independence and access to more opportunities in Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, and Edmonton area.”
“We recognize the importance of having an accessible transportation service available to residents to help them maintain their quality of life,” says Spruce Grove Mayor Stuart Houston. “This merger to create the new ATS is a wonderful example of municipal co-operation and finding ways to work with our neighbouring communities to find solutions that will serve and benefit all our residents.”
Stay tuned for announcements by following our social media channels and checking your local newspaper! Information about ATS is also available at www.stonyplain.com/ATS .
ATS is expected to be up and running February 3, 2020.