Photo by Kirk Starratt

Advertorial published by TC Media, Advertiser; February 21, 2012.

Kings Point-to-Point Transit is an evolving organization and their recent name change is reflective of the direction they’re taking. The notfor- profit organization is focusing on improving efficiency, establishing partnerships with municipalities and key organizational users.

“People work hard to support you in a small community like this,” Operations Manager Faye Brown said.

The name change was decided on so people didn’t misinterpret what Kings Point-to-Point offers. When established in 1998 and for the first several years, the organization was known as the Kings County Alternative Transportation Services Society (KCATSS) and later Kings Para Transit (KPT).

However, as pointed out by past chair Naomi Blanchard, “para” means “person with disability” but the service is really open to everybody who needs point-topoint transit or who isn’t on the linear Kings Transit route. They hope to remove the connotation of “para”, as it’s too narrow.

“People said they didn’t realize mom or dad could use it,” Blanchard said.

Brown said they needed a name change to better serve the growing diversity of their clientele and engage the community as a whole. Kings Point-to-Point Transit is available to provide transportation to any employment, appointment or personal commitment. Blanchard said they don’t scrutinize the reason.

The organization did a survey in advance of making the name change and found people recognize the blue colour of their vehicles, so that won’t change. They did a brainstorming session to come up with a more suitable name and involved 16 partner organizations. It was an inclusive process with community input all the way. They also had two marketing students from Acadia University volunteer their time and talents to help with the process.

In regard to their recently acquired office space at 14 Aberdeen Street in Kentville, Brown said they chose it because it’s accessible and located downtown. Blanchard said it’s a storefront and the rent is very reasonable, which were also important considerations. The public is invited to check out the new office, meet the staff and learn more about the organization at an open house Friday, Feb. 24 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. There will be refreshments served.

There are 11 similar community transportation organizations in the province, all with similar mandates. They receive funding through the provincial Community Transportation Assistance Program.

“The mandate for community transportation services has been extended through the province,” Brown said. “With the increased mandate and more clients, we’ve increased efficiency.”

In fact, Kings Point-to-Point Transit has experienced 25 per cent growth in each of the last two years, 15 per cent so far this year. Brown credits increased marketing efforts and the expanded mandate. Also of note, a third party consultant recently determined the organization to be one of the most efficient small transit organizations in the country.

Blanchard said the County of Kings has been fabulous and has always supported Kings Point-to-Point with operational funding. They’re very pleased that all three towns, Berwick, Kentville and Wolfville, are also providing operational grants. The Eastern Kings Memorial Community Health Foundation has also been a great support, providing more than $200,000 in capital assistance over the years.

With six vehicles on the road, Blanchard said they pretty much have to replace a vehicle every year. Chrysler has given the organization factory pricing but Kings Point-to-Point Transit would love to have a local vehicle dealership step forward as a major sponsor. Michelin Canada has always been a key supporter, providing winter and summer tires for all Kings Point-to-Point Transit vehicles. Blanchard pointed out government support is available only for wheelchair accessible vehicles.

The Kings Point-to-Point Transit fleet consists of two fully accessible minibuses and four vans. Blanchard said it now costs about $45,000 for an accessible van, about $100,000 for a minibus. The provincial Utilities and Review Board requires accessibility conversion to be done in-factory and be Canadian Standards Association approved. Without this certification, the vans couldn’t be used to transport students to summer camps, for example.

Kings Point-to-Point Transit currently covers the geographic area between Highway 360 and Hants Border. If you’d like a drive, call 681-2846 at least 24 to 48 hours in advance. If you’re a Kings County resident, Kings Point-to-Point Transit can take you anywhere in Nova Scotia. There is a one-time processing fee of $10 to join. Everyone who pays the $10 becomes a member.

The fee is $6.50 for a trip seven kilometres or less and the price is based on distance beyond that. For example, a return trip to Halifax from Kentville currently costs about $123.50. The vehicles are stringently maintained and a strict emphasis is placed on cleanliness so a pleasant experience is provided for passengers.

Brown said their rates haven’t increased in three years in spite of skyrocketing fuel prices and rising operating costs. This also speaks to the organization’s increased efficiency. Blanchard said partnering with other organizations is key to increasing usage.

If you would like to make a monetary donation to Kings Point-to-Point Transit, the organization would welcome the support and a receipt will be provided for income tax purposes.

Brown and Blanchard agree their drivers are tremendous. They have seven drivers on staff and five volunteer drivers. The organization also has two fantastic office staff members. If you’d like to volunteer as a driver or perhaps serve on the Kings Point-to-Point Transit board of directors, call or drop off a resume at the Kentville office. Everyone who works for or with the organization displays great volunteer spirit and are supportive of the organization’s mandate and its clients.

For more information on Kings Point-to- Point Transit call 681-2846, visit www.kppt.ca or e-mail info@kppt.ca.