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County to explore ride-sharing, beach shuttle services

A ride sharing pilot program and a return of shuttles to and from the Sandbanks are being explored for Prince Edward County.

A visitors survey conducted last fall identified the lack of taxis, or Uber ride-sharing, as a frustration. Respondents also complained about lack of parking and traffic snarls – frustrations shared by residents.

Council, at its committee of the whole meeting Thursday, approved continuing the shuttle service between the Sandbanks and Picton, Bloomfield and Wellington using the remainder of the Community Transportation Funding ending March 31, 2025. Staff will also work with County Transit to discuss a pilot dinner hour shuttle service, pending the success of an application to the Tourism Relief Fund – connecting Picton, Bloomfield and Wellington from May to October 2022 Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Should the grant application be unsuccessful, councillors noted wishes to discuss using accommodations tax funds from the new Destination Marketing Organization budget, and not the municipal portion, to fund dinner hour shuttles estimated at about $115,000.

Quinte Transit estimates the cost of running the service at $700 per day for two vehicles.
Depending on funds received the service could be expanded by days, and months. Cost per passenger would be $5 and the bus holds 18 passengers. Passengers would pre-book rides.

It was noted in the report that Prince Edward OPP statistics show driving while impaired infractions in 2021 were up 24 per cent. In 2020, there were 32 charges related to impaired driving. In 2021 that number rose to 48 – above the seven-year average of 38.

Discussion is also under way to negotiate an agreement with Uride for a one-year pilot ride sharing program. The company operates in several medium-sized Ontario cities, including Belleville.

In a presentation, Vince Scott, Uride’s Operations Manger, noted the County does not fall into its target population, but offers a unique opportunity.

“Questions we need to work through include: How can we increase earnings in such a large area? Is the population high enough that there is enough of a driver base to recruit from? High vs low season concerns as traditionally rideshare is busier in the winter and this would be the opposite.”

Councillors also expressed concern any subsidy that may be required and also wanted to ensure discussion included current taxi drivers in the County.

No negotiations have begun, and Scott noted the company is still in the “how would we make this work stage” but added the service could be started up fairly quicky.

Municipal staff also expect to return to committee of the whole at a later date with proposed updates regarding ride sharing services as part of bylaw review phase three updates.

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. Emily says:

    As far as I am concerned all tourist related expenses such as the Tourist Management Plan, additional bylaw officers and shuttles should be funded by the DMO from their portion 50 % of Mat Tax. The Municipal portion should go towards local resident needs such as roads.

  2. Gary says:

    Well that’s fine but Council can certainly determine where their 50 % Mat Tax is or in this case not going.

  3. Dan says:

    If the application is unsuccessful, council suggested using DMO portion to pay for shuttle program.
    Ontario legislation reads, DMO is to operate and conduct business at arms length from municipality. If council is predetermining where DMO funds are allocated, there is no reason to have a DMO. And is contrary to Ontario legislation.
    Is this ignorance or arrogance ? For a program, not sure who even wants.

  4. Chuck says:

    All these costs for tourism should be comimg from the tourist destination Mat tax that they receive 50% of. The Municipal 50 % should not go at all to tourism but put towards roads and neccessary local needs.

  5. Mike Rodgers says:

    The parking on weekends in Wellington and Picton at present is terrible. Now lets shuttle tourist to the beach and they can park their cars on the main streets all day. They can do this because there is no parking enforcement on weekends. I have said before, from June 1st until the end of September there needs to paid parking 7 days a week. For some reason council does not think there is any business on weekends just Monday to Friday.

  6. Dan says:

    Instead of lobbying the parks for alternative solutions or directing staff to explore options for parking. Elected officials, carpet bombed the county with public parking restrictions. There is lots of room at the beach, just limited parking.
    Shuttle service is a reaction, from a overreaction.
    It would be great to use mat tax for road repairs and improvements. IS a large portion going to staff wages and admin fees? This revenue really could benefit all residents.

  7. Bruce Nicholson says:

    A shuttle service is an Ontario Parks issue and not one for consideration or funding by our County. Lets put some of those Accommodation Tax Funds to roads maintenance and roadside clean up.

  8. angela says:

    Dennis is right. A lot of seniors have challenges in getting to medical appointments, grocery stores etc and need a shuttle service a lot more than the tourists who find lack of transportation a “frustration”. These seniors are not tourists on vacation with a pocketful of money. Many are on fixed incomes and find taxis very expensive. We have lots of locals relying on foodbanks. Why should be worry about our summer visitors who whine because they find it inconvenient to get to expensive eateries for fine dining? Maybe the restaurants should pool funds and hire their own shuttle service. Why is everything in the county now geared to the tourist? Council should be looking at how difficult it is for locals to manage and stop pandering to the tourists.

  9. Dennis Fox says:

    Can anyone explain why a shuttle service is needed and why tax dollars would support it? We have residents from outside of our towns that have a hard time getting into town for groceries and doctors appointments – I would much rather help those people than seeing tax dollars going to support more conveniences for tourists.

    The idea of the accommodation tax was to help alleviate the tax burden for local tax payers – why should it be designated solely for tourists or the tourist industry?

    If I have the wrong end of the stick on this – please explain.

  10. David Thomas says:

    The Ontario Parks reservation system, where Day Passes for Sandbanks were booked online, did a good job of reducing traffic snarls. As a Season’s Pass holder, I was initially annoyed by this additional requirement, but it did the job. I guess a shuttle would get you into the park without a day pass (which is fine – parking is the issue; there’s lots of room on the beach.) So I am not sure if traffic congestion is a valid reason for a shuttle service. I agree though, that there should be a safe way to go out for dinner and drinks but not get behind the wheel of a vehicle afterwards. Honestly, more Ubers would solve the problem on its own without the need for a subsidized shuttle.

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