The Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee (MAAC) recently held their monthly meeting and the topic of the imminent changeover of operators for the Para Bus service was a hot topic.

The City Council representative on the committee, Mike Anthony, says that three-quarters of the discussion at the meeting had to do with Para Buses.

The members of the committee are seeking a more active role as the Para Bus service transitions from the joint PHARA – City of North Bay model that will end at the end of July after PHARA (Physically Handicapped Adults’ Rehabilitation Association) opted not to continue the agreement.

Anthony acknowledges the exemplary role that PHARA has played in operating the Para Bus and says the advisory committee sees this period of transition as an opportunity to consult with staff on a service the group makes use of so often.

MAAC Chair Nora Long and Anthony have reached out to City staff to express these thoughts. Anthony adds that the committee is anxious to both be kept apprised of developments and to offer input to the process.

Among the items identified for review by MAAC are scheduling and opening the service to more riders (such as the blind) during winter months.

The City of North Bay will be seeking to have a new operator in place well ahead of the end of the current contract. The City is bound by provincial legislation to offer equal services for transit users with disabilities.

The standard to be eligible for the Para Bus is being unable to board a conventional transit bus or to walk a distance of 175 metres to access transit due to a physical disability.