It was mid January when Linda Dola called Selkirk Mobility to take her mom for some medical appointments. It’s a day that sticks with her, because of the excellent service she, and her mom, received. Dola was so moved, the following day she emailed Selkirk Mobility to congratulate them on the wonderful experience.
“I wish to take this opportunity to commend the Selkirk Mobility service for their excellent service I received,” Dola wrote. “The courtesy this company displayed was amazing by both the office staff as well as the bus driver.”
Selkirk Mobility, which, along with Selkirk Transit, is operated by the Selkirk Transit Authority, was a fledgling operation at the time Dola and her mom boarded the bus, having just begun servicing Selkirk residents in October of 2015.
Selkirk Mobility Services Exceed Expectations
Selkirk Mobility has now been in operation for just over a year, and the number of satisfied clients, like Dola and her mom, is growing every day.
Charlene Dunning, Manager of Transportation Services for Selkirk Transit Authority, said by the time December rolls around, they’ll have provided transportation for more people than anticipated in the program’s initial year.
“Our year-end projections are that we’ll have just under 20,000 clients this year alone,” Dunning said. “That’s pretty phenomenal for what our expectation was when we first started the system. We thought we’d be gradually building up and we knew we’d get there, but it went a lot faster than we first anticipated.”
Indeed it has. Dunning said they have exceeded their budget expectations through a combination of closely watching expenses and a rapidly growing client base. With a five-year business plan that has capital replacement built right in, Dunning said that Selkirk Mobility is largely self-sustaining and should not require additional funding from the City of Selkirk.
Duane Nicol, the city’s Chief Administrative Officer, said Selkirk Mobility is an unqualified success, and he commended its staff for a job well done.
“Selkirk Mobility is a cost-effective program that is fully funded, meaning it budgets for its operations and capital replacement. While the service is subsidized by annual grants from the City of Selkirk and the Province of Manitoba, the program puts money aside to upgrade and replace the buses, so it won’t be coming to the city every year to fund deficits or for large grants to purchase new buses,” Nicol said.
“It provides the highest level of service to its clients, and their response has been tremendous. The Selkirk Mobility staff, particularly the drivers, has been key to the success, and they continue to go above and beyond for the people who rely on them for transportation. It’s an incredible success story.”
Selkirk Mobility provides transportation to people over the age of 65, and anyone with permanent or temporary disabilities. Dunning said that means if someone under the age of 65 were to injure themselves, they’d qualify to use the service, even if the injury is temporary.
“If you were to break your leg tomorrow and you didn’t have transportation to go to work, you would be eligible,” Dunning said.
She praised Transit Authority drivers for their dedication to the job. She said Selkirk Mobility began with just two buses, but the demand for service was so strong it immediately was apparent they’d need to add a third bus, which they have done.
In those initial days the drivers were exceptional, Dunning said, as they worked out the details of a new system.
“The drivers have been so wonderful,” Dunning said.
Dedicated Staff Contribute to Early Success
Selkirk Transit Authority has 15 employees, with Selkirk Mobility having two full-time, four part time and some casual.
Denis Fitzpatrick, Chairman of the Selkirk Transit Authority board of directors, agreed that public response Selkirk Mobility was swift and positive. And he said the staff should be proud of the job they’ve done.
“So far everything that we’ve done has exceeded our expectations. Selkirk Mobility started because of a void and once word of mouth got around, people started picking up on it and we have had so many positive comments about the drivers, the fact that they arrive on time, they’re courteous, they’re helpful. We’ve been quite pleased,” Fitzpatrick said.
“Staff has worked really, really hard to provide the service. They take the time to help people and that’s been much appreciated.”
In Dola’s email, she said her driver was on time and pleasant and made her mom feel “comfortable and warm”. Dola was also pleased that she could ride on the bus, for free, with her mom.
“In the past with a different company, I was not allowed to travel with my mother to the hospital and had to take my own vehicle to follow the bus to our destination,” Dola said. “I was surprised when they told me I could ride alongside my mother for free and this made my mother more relaxed about the trip as she could see me at all times.”
Bonnie Taylor also emailed to thank Selkirk Mobility for their treatment of her brother, who used the service in September.
“Service was top notch,” Taylor wrote. “My brother thoroughly enjoyed the ride. Thank you to all your staff for contributing to his enjoyable visit.”
Dunning said Selkirk Mobility provides door-to-door specialized transportation, which means the driver will assist the client from the door of their home to the door of their destination. It’s a service the drivers take very seriously.
“We’ll walk with the clients, push their wheelchairs, whatever is needed to make sure they are safe, getting on the bus and getting off, into their destination and back to their home,” Dunning said. “And the escorts ride for free. That’s an important service and it provides an extra level of comfort for the client.”
Selkirk Mobility also provides transportation services for Interlake Eastern Regional Health Authority programs, as well as Community Living Selkirk. Dunning said providing transportation to programs that offer socialization to their clients is important.
“These are significant programs. They help with mental health and socialization. Providing assistance for in-place aging is really important, and we’re able to provide that now,” Dunning said.
Providing Regional Services
Selkirk Mobility has expanded its service into St. Andrews and St. Clements. It offers transportation locally and chartered trips to Winnipeg and other destinations. Service is available seven days a week, and last year, they provided transportation on Christmas Day as well.