Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Shuswap Transportation Society (SSTS) has continued efforts to deliver a new door-to-door transportation service for residents of the South Shuswap.
We are pleased to report that by time this article goes to press, we expect to have in place the first and only electric vehicle charging station in the South Shuswap installed at the Tirecraft facility in Sorrento.
The charging station was funded under a Community Works Fund grant through the CSRD, and will be available to all electric vehicles for a small charge to cover electricity costs.
In addition to obtaining funding for the charging station, the SSTS was successful in obtaining grants to partially fund the purchase of an electric vehicle. We have taken delivery of a 2020 Chevy Bolt and will now start implementing our pre-operational plans. Going forward, the short-term plans of the SSTS are to:
• Outfit the vehicle with sponsors’ logos to highlight their financial support;
• Recruit volunteers to act as drivers and dispatchers for this service;
• Finalize all relevant policies and procedures in regards to operations, including a COVID-19 driver and passenger safety procedure;
• Conduct mandatory driver safety training for all volunteer drivers;
• Initiate a marketing program to inform residents about this service, our safety precautions and operations, and to enable bookings for riders.
Given these plans, it will be several months before the SSTS is up and operational as a service, so please watch for future announcements.
In the interim, the current COVID-19 pandemic requires implementation of a safe operational plan. We are currently finalizing the details of this so that drivers and passengers can be confident in using this service.
This transportation service is planned to operate during weekdays and business hours only. It will require riders to book 24-48 hours in advance over the phone on a first-come, first-served basis. All riders are encouraged to become SSTS members for a small fee. The service will preferentially provide local trips within the South Shuswap, in order to support local businesses, as well as travel to Salmon Arm for shopping and appointments. Medical appointments in Kamloops and Vernon will also be possible, with sufficient notice and availability.
While this service will be operated by volunteers, there are operational costs to cover on an ongoing basis, including driver safety training, insurance, car payments, recharging, marketing communications and overheads. Riders will be asked to provide donations to help cover these costs according to a suggested donation policy; however, in hardship cases, we will not be turning any riders away.
A key part of this program will be participation of volunteer drivers. A call for volunteer drivers will occur in the near future. If you are interested, however, please don’t hesitate to drop me an email at email@example.com. I would be very pleased to answer your questions in the interim. Please note that passing the driver safety training program is required for all drivers. The professional driving instructor tells me this program will significantly improve your driving skills, your safety as a driver, and will markedly reduce your gasoline consumption.
We believe that this new transportation service will be a significant benefit for the South Shuswap. Individuals who cannot drive, who do not have a driver’s license or who cannot afford a vehicle will have their independence restored. Seniors and those with disabilities can stay in this community for longer. Unemployed people can participate in job training and employment programs. And people in the South Shuswap needing a ride for whatever reason can get one – finally!
-Paul Demenok is the Area C Director for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District