In order to be sustainale in the long term, Manager Roger Cook says member municipalities are going to have to seriously consider increasing their annual SMART contributions.
Cook notes that in 2017, Owen Sound contributed $12.27 per capita to fund the City’s specialized transit.
In comparison, Cook notes that SMART only received $7.59 per capita from its member municipalities.
He says SMART has the lowest population denisty and the largest geographical coverage area of its peer group, adding
that SMART's funding is well below what is needs to be to provide service while still having money to set aside for new vehicles.
Because of this, it is Cook's long term goal is to raise SMART’s member municipal per capita contribution from $7.59 to $12.27.
This will not be without its challenges, as Cook acknowledges that municipalities are dealing with their own budget restraints.
In 2018, SMART provided over 36 thousand rides to the most vulnerable members of the community enabling them to get to medical appointments, go to work, shop, visit and stay mobile.
Had the province not cancelled the previous government’s promised planned two cent incremental increase to the gas tax transfers, Cook says the need to increase the municipal contribution would not be so great.
SMART is a specialized public transit service that provides transportation to residents with physical or mental challenges in 9 municipalities in Grey and Bruce.
This includes: Arran-Elderslie, Brockton, Chatsworth, Hanover, Huron Kinloss, Kincardine, Saugeen Shores, Southgate and West Grey.