We have an opportunity to lead the development of rural transit systems.
Our area is evolving from being a primarily an agricultural region to being a region that mixes agriculture, new businesses (many anchored in the agri-business sector) and bedroom communities.
Both the development of new businesses and the growth of our role as a bedroom region opens up opportunities to develop innovative solutions in rural transit.
As a first step, we can set up car-pooling and car-sharing programs in many of our communities. There are many examples of carpooling system, including examples for rural communities that we can use as templates.
As a second—and perhaps more significant—step, we can set up small, locally-focused transit systems that meet our communities and businesses needs for transit. As part of my work at the Buller Centre for Business, students and I have been working on developing La Connexion Rural—a rural transit system for highway 59, that can link St. Malo, St-Pierre-Jolys, Otterburne, Ille des Chenes, and Winnipeg.
There are other parts of our region that could benefit from the same sort of transit initiatives. These include:
- Connecting the Steinbach area to Winnipeg.
- Connecting Headingley and the area around St. Francis Xavier into Winnipeg.
- Connecting the communities in the Highway 75 and Border Commission Trail region together—including Rosenort and Morris. This would be helpful both for people commuting into Winnipeg, and for people commuting out to businesses in the area.
Rural transit in these areas build on the strengths of our Handi-Transit systems, improving transportation options for everyone.