A proposed intercommunity bus service for rural Northern Oxford County is raising eyebrows because of its cost.
The plan was has been approved by Oxford County Council, even though a staff report from the city of Woodstock pegs the cost to tax-payers at $387.00 per rider trip.
Woodstock Mayor Trevor Birtch voted against the plan.
"Individuals would not only be able to have private taxi service door to door for less money- in that first year of service many people could actually ride a private limousine for less money than riding the north transit system."
According to Birtch the total cost of the project is estimated at between $228,000 for the first year, and up to $351,000 by the seventh year of operation. Funding would come from provincial gas tax revenues and county tax-payers.
The transit service would be similar to the one in the southern part of the county based in Tillsonburg, which began earlier this year. Under the municipal act, a county cannot actually operate the transit service, so in this case the transit authority falls to the municipality of East-Zorra Tavistock. EZT Mayor Don McKay says the service will be benefit rural residents who don’t currently have access to transportation.
"This opportunity is in front of us to connect north Oxford, which then allows us to connect down to Tillsonburg, through to London, then to the north to Shakespeare, which would then allow them to go to Stratford, New Hamburg, Kitchener-Waterloo."
Among those who could benefit is Hickson area resident Harvey Crawford. At 92-years-old he says he knows his days behind the wheel are numbered. "Ten miles north to Tavistock. Ten miles south to Tavistock. But if there were some sort of a service for somebody who was incapable of driving, whether it be through the law or maybe physically, I think it’d be a good service."
If all goes as planned, the northern Oxford bus service will roll out next spring, however, not if Woodstock has any say. Mayor Birtch says the city is planning to go to court to oppose the issue, and put a stop to the service before it even starts.