The results of a transportation-needs survey, commissioned by the Kincardine Area Seniors Advisory Action Committee (KASAAC), with support from the Municipality of Kincardine, have been compiled and released.
The purpose of the survey was to identify if there is a need for safe and affordable transportation in the local area and to determine what the most pressing needs are. Using the information compiled, it hoped to identify short and long term solutions to whatever needs were identified.
“Our KASAAC group met via Zoom over the winter and brainstormed what we could do to improve the quality of life for local residents,” said KASAAC acting chairperson, Randy Hughes. “The lack of affordable local transportation was a concern that was expressed repeatedly. The COVID lockdowns had a greater effect on the most vulnerable whose access to affordable transportation was even more limited. Our group decided that the best way to truly measure the need was to conduct a needs assessment survey. Our KASAAC committee, with the help and support of Lori Fioze from the municipality, drafted a survey that was launched both using the Survey Monkey online tool and in a paper format.”
The survey was available online and in hardcopy form and was live from June 9 to July 16, 2021. The survey asked 14 questions and respondents were not required to answer all questions in the survey.
“We received 348 responses to the survey and although the number was very reasonable, the analysis revealed that the responses did not accurately reflect the demographics of the area,” said Hughes. “With COVID restrictions in place it was very difficult to reach out to many of the local residents that are most impacted by the gaps in local transportation services. Most of the responses received were from the Survey Monkey platform. The survey results revealed that the need for improved transportation services was small with most respondents content to continue using their personal vehicles.”
Respondents were asked to identify their age by category. The majority of the respondents were 60-69 (30 per cent), followed by 70-79 (27.5 per cent). The third largest age group was the 30-39 grouping at 10 per cent, closely followed by 80-89 at nine per cent.
Asked where they lived, more than half of the respondents were within Kincardine town limits, with another 23 per cent within three kilometres of downtown Kincardine.
Approximately two thirds of the respondents identified themselves as retired (68.06 per cent) with the next largest groups employed full time (12.57 per cent).
More than 80 per cent of respondents drive a vehicle. Of the 18.85 per cent that don’t drive a vehicle, 43.24 per cent said they could not drive because of a medical or physical condition, 33.78 were not licensed drivers and 32.43 per cent couldn’t afford the expense.
Asked what their primary purpose for using transit would be if it was available, almost three quarters of the 351 respondents said shopping, 67.81 per cent said medical appointments and 46.15 per cent said going out to restaurants or coffee shops. Other purposes included getting to work, personal visits, attending church, accessing social assistance programs and avoiding downtown parking.
Respondents were asked how often they would use a local bus service and the majority indicated occasionally (38.1 per cent) or one to two days each week (28.04 per cent). Most thought they would use the service between 9 a.m. - 11 a.m., while the times 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., 1 – 3 p.m., 3 – 5 p.m. and 5 – 7 p.m. all came in between 30 and approximately 38 per cent. Forty six responses indicated they would use the service between 7 – 10 p.m. (35 responses) and 10 p.m.-1 a.m. (11 responses) to access nightly entertainment and work.
Asked if they would give up their vehicle if bus service was available where and when needed, the answers were split quite evenly between yes, no and not sure.
The survey then asked if the respondent had access to internet and more than 90 per cent indicated they did and almost 90 per cent indicated they had a cell phone or smart phone.
The survey went on to ask what, if any, currently available transportation services the respondents used. The majority, almost 57 per cent, indicated they did not use any, with a small number of respondents saying they used S.M.A.R.T., taxi, TOK Coach to Toronto and Grey Bruce Airbus.
In the future, 67.02 per cent said they would prefer to drive their own car, 35.12 per cent preferred to walk or cycle, 34.58 per cent would use Grey Bruce Airbus and almost 29 per cent would use TOK coach to Toronto. This question also prompted an additional two dozen comments about different ideas for transportation, including weekly bus service to grocery stores and pharmacies, buses to major cities for shopping, sporting and entertainment events and service to rural areas.
The final question of the survey asked respondents to make comments or leave suggestions regarding transportation in this area. More than three dozen comments were left, covering such areas as the need for transit for seniors, especially in the winter, and the need for service to link outlying communities. Others thought it was difficult to find work without public transit and another suggested a service that was available on set days, where users could pay a fee or purchase a monthly pass.
KASAAC then compiled its thoughts on the information provided by the survey.
It noted that the need for transportation wasn’t reflected in the numbers provided by the questions asked, but was strongly reflected in the comments. The committee was also surprised how many respondents weren’t aware of existing transportation options.
The committee acknowledged that this is a very “car-centric” community where people must drive to access basic needs, such as grocery stores.
Going forward, the committee has identified several areas they feel needs additional investigation, including reaching out to a younger population to see what their transportation needs are. It also wants to see if there is a difference in need between genders. Additional information is needed to clarify if the time of year changes the transportation needs of residents, and finally, identify if the pandemic has impacted the need to travel to restaurants, stores and other venues.
“The results of the survey have been shared with both the Bruce County and Grey County Transportation committees to assist in their master transportation plans,” said Hughes. “Going forward (the committee plans to)1. Lobby Saugeen Mobility (SMART) to expand their charter service. 2. Lobby municipal councillors to initiate a “Notice of Motion” for municipal staff to evaluate current and future local transportation needs and available services and report back to council.”
Other actions include “3. Keep in touch with the Bruce County Master Transportation Committee to push for improvements. 4. In a post pandemic world, consider relaunching the survey where we may get a better response across the area.”
The committee identified a number of potential actions, including:
Promoting modes of transportation that is already available through local and social media.
Investigate how other small municipalities support transportation services and share this information with stakeholders.
Consider what other transportation options are available other than a bus service, for example, a contract between the Municipality and taxi services.
Expand the S.M.A.R.T. service to include people who do not have disabilities.
Further information gathering to fully understand the needs of all ages, genders and if there is a seasonal impact.
Host an open house or forum to share information gathered from other municipalities. Gather information on needs and create a list of potential actions for Kincardine visitors and residents.
Propose to municipal council that a transportation committee be formed and that the committee should be composed of members of different ages and community partners. This needs to be a broader issue than one that just affects older adults.
Finally, the committee will discuss the role of the Municipality in transportation services.
The committee says its potential next steps include presenting the survey results to the Community Economic Development Committee in order to share results and talk about the potential for collaboration on actions. It will research what grants are available that would support transportation in rural communities.
View the full report on the Municipality of Kincardine website at https://www.kincardine.ca/en/living-here/community-projects.aspx.
Tammy Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent