Strait Area Transit waiting to return to the road

Office manager Jessie MacDonald and Strait Area Transit(SAT) chair Jim Mustard share a laugh at SAT’s annual general meeting on May 24, 2019 in Port Hawkesbury.

INVERNESS: The Strait Area Transit (SAT) Co-operative is looking to hire a new full-time manager.

With the departure of former general manager Jessie MacDonald, board chair Jim Mustard said the process of finding a replacement is underway.

Although MacDonald had the title of general manager, Mustard explained that the new manager will have basically the same job.

“There are three positions really; there’s the manager, there’s dispatch and then accounting is going to be contracted,” he explained. “The manager will keep track of the daily flow of the money, pay roll, etc… but we’re going to have an external accountant to take care of the bigger picture financial reporting and responsibilities.”

Mustard said SAT is awaiting changes to public health protocols before being able to offer more services. Right now, the Nova Scotia Health Authority arranges for transportation through the SAT.

“We’re not sure when that’s going to happen; if this is going to happen in July, August or September,” Mustard said. “The issue with our buses and the size of them is that you can’t social distance very easily.”

Mustard noted that because SAT experienced a lot of growth in the past five years, and is in the midst of a hiring process, they are undertaking a full review of all operations, including staff training, staff compensation, routes, staff numbers, and general budgeting over the next two years.

Despite the dire economic predictions and unanswered questions, Mustard is optimistic about the future of public transportation. He said community transit will be essential, but might take a different shape.

“If there’s an economic downturn that’s deep and long, more people are going to rely on ways of getting around that aren’t going to include private vehicles,” Mustard said. “A lot of people are still going to be looking at how do I get to my job, how am I going to get groceries, or get to a medical appointment when maybe their cash flow doesn’t allow them to maintain vehicles.”

According to the SAT’s job description, the successful candidate will work from the Port Hawkesbury office and be responsible for: building a strong team of dispatchers and staff drivers; ensuring all systems are in place to keep the daily services efficient, safe and financially sustainable; and representing Strait Area Transit in the community, engaging stakeholders and working to serve the needs of the public.

For the full job description, visit: www.satbus.ca. Resumes and cover letters can be e-mailed to: john.dowling@invernesscounty.ca. The deadline for applications is May 25.

Mustard added that SAT is hoping to have a new manager in the position by the beginning of June.