PORT HAWKESBURY: The Strait Area Transit (SAT) Co-operative’s annual general meeting took place last Thursday, and the main message out of the session is that the busing service is pretty much breaking even while creating jobs and getting people from Point A to Point B.
“We’re not making any money but we’re not losing any money, and that’s the big thing,” said office manager Jessie MacDonald. “We’re transporting tens of thousands of people on the in-between. We’re breaking even, and we’re continuing to grow.
“We have people in Port Hawkesbury who don’t have a licence but they have jobs in Inverness because they can get there consistently every day. Every day, we take people to medical appointments; it’s unbelievable how many people we take.”
Total revenues for 2017 were $526,490 with total expenses sitting at $527,378. The largest expense for the service was payroll, as the group paid out $315,558. Also taking a bite out of Strait Area Transit’s wallet was fuel ($82,847), vehicle expenses ($56,031), depreciation ($31,760), and insurance ($27,299).
“The wheels on the buses have been going around and round,” said chair Jim Mustard.
“Strait Area Transit is on a good stretch now, but looking down the road there are a few things we as an organization need to pay attention to: a plan for a new and renewed fleet of buses with the investment in place to cover it, a plan for a review of wages and benefits packages for staff, support for our staff in terms of training, and some HR policy support that makes this a great place to work.”
He added expansion into Victoria County is a goal for the near future, as well as more investment by the province. As it stands, residents of Inverness and Richmond counties, and the Town of Port Hawkesbury are served by SAT.
Both Mustard and MacDonald said the group has a plan in place to make two new purchases this fiscal year. An additional bus will be added to SAT’s fleet, as well as an additional mini-van.
One new officer was elected to the board, as NSCC Strait Area Campus president Tom Gunn has joined the fold.
“He made a comment that this was very important to his school,” said Mustard.
SAT may make additional additions to the board in the near future, but no names were verified at the AGM. The current board members are all remaining in place, and that includes Mustard even though the AGM saw a new chair elected. Inverness Municipal Councillor John Dowling is now in the driver’s seat.