More than 2,000 people have had a bit of an easier ride in the year since the Dartmouth North community van took to the road.
An initiative of former Coun. Jim Smith, who provided the initial purchase money, the community van is managed by The Public Good Society and available to non-profit organizations throughout Dartmouth.
“Today I took about 40 people home from the foodbank,” said Ralph MacKenzie, a board member with The Public Good Society and van driver. “We average about 175 people a month.”
Currently used by First Baptist Church and Stairs Memorial United Church, to assist people going home from their food banks, the van is also used by the Freedom Foundation, Alice Housing and The Public Good Society.
Since it started operation – Jan. 17, 2012 – the van has clocked almost 6,000 kms transporting 2,048 people to programs and services and back home again.
“For people with mobility issues or elderly people, or just for people who could do with a bit of a break, the van is a simple idea that makes a lot of sense,” MacKenzie said.
A nice by-product of the van has been the strong connections that have been made between passengers along the way.
“We travel by geographic area so I’ll be driving people home who live near each other but maybe don’t know it. Travelling together gives us all a chance to get to know one another. We have a fair bit of fun, to tell you the truth,” MacKenzie said.
A retired teacher, MacKenzie said he loves driving the van and getting to know people as he goes.
“It’s the highlight of my week. I really look forward to it,” he said.
The van costs .20/km to run, which works out to about $8 to transport 40 people on any given day.
Imperial Oil has donated gas cards to help with fuel costs. Donations to help with maintenance can be made to The Public Good Society (www.publicgoodsociety.ca).