Transit Cape Breton is adding two new routes and two improved routes to its bus service around Sydney, N.S., as ridership hits an all-time high in the area.
Starting Sept. 5, new routes will be added to serve high density areas in the municipality where buses did not previously run. Express lines will also be added to existing routes to Cape Breton University and Glace Bay.
One new route will run along Westmount and Coxheath roads before looping back to Sydney.
Gerard Sheppard lives in Westmount and has a car, but says he knows many people on this stretch of road who will be happy to see the line expanded. For him, the nearest bus stop is 1.5 kilometres away which he says is too far for some seniors in the growing community.
"Lot of seniors, they're basically almost trapped in their houses," he said. "They can't get out, they can't get to appointments. They have to rely on other people.
"I mean, we should have transportation and if the regional municipality is going to grow, we have to expand these services," he said.
Growing student enrolment at Cape Breton University in Sydney, N.S., is driving the need to expand transit service. (Tom Ayers/CBC)
Another route will extend the line running through Sydney River to nearby Howie Centre along Highway 4.
Increasing enrolment at Cape Breton University has put housing in high demand near the university and surrounding communities.
Doug Connors is the university's director of housing. With the announcement of expanded transit services, he hopes to see more options for students further away from campus.
"One of the challenges of course for any student, not just international, sometimes is transportation to the campus," he said. "So with reliable bus service to those areas, we're hoping that we'll see more offerings from landowners in those places to make places available to students."
Steve Gillespie is the Cape Breton Regional Municipality's councillor for the area covering Westmount and Coxheath. He said the addition of services to the area is a big win for residents, and he agrees it will open up more housing opportunities for both students and seniors.
"It opens up thousands of homes where individuals can now rent out, or at least people can now move and not need the car as much as they used to," Gillespie said. "I mean it really is one of the things that a city or municipality needs to provide."