Providing transportation services for individuals in Les Collines-de-l‘Outaouais has always been considered an essential service that is also an important tool for the further development of our local communities. Transcollines is the result of concerted efforts on the part of community stakeholders who, over the years, were brave enough to create innovative solutions to address our mobility problems.
Rural Public Transport Component
In Les Collines, the history of public transit has deep roots in a series of tense meetings held in the 1970s that aimed to coordinate the various modes of transport used by the people in l’Outaouais. The short-term result was limited to the creation of paratransit services in urban areas. With the long term in mind, certain actors of the day, including Mr. Harry Gow and Mr. Claude Quesnel of the CSLC of la Petite-Nation, worked to create a transit system in the rural Outaouais area, and succeeded in establishing a collaboration between school and paratransit transportation services as well as those offered free of charge. Following the example of Mr. Quesnel’s initiative, in 2001, the Regional Board of Health and Social Services secured funding from Health Canada for a research-action project to create and evaluate four public transit systems, one for each RCM of l’Outaouais, with the aim to make resources essential for health accessible to disadvantaged populations. The project was founded on the hypothesis that the shortage or lack of transportation was an aggravating factor in the health condition of these populations, notably in terms of transportation to medical appointments and especially in rural areas. At around the same time, in 2002, the Ministry of Transport of Quebec (MTQ) created a program to facilitate public transit in rural areas. This marked the beginning of several public transit corporations, including Corporation de Transport Collectif des Collines (CTCC), which were established on 8 October 2002 thanks to the work of many devoted people, with Mr. Gow at the forefront.
The RCM of Papineau created the first coordination office with the support of the School Board, which served as a model for the region’s three other RCMs. Although the project committee started work in 2001, the RCM of Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais was slightly slower than the others to put into place a “single ticketing system.” Despite some resistance and misgivings, following the submission of a business plan and several reports demonstrating the existing need in November 2003, the Mayors’ Council of the RCM of Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais gave the project its green light, paving the way for the securing of (modest) funds from Transports Québec and the Ministère des Affaires Municipales via the RMC. The founding of the Corporation des Transports Collectifs of Les Collines was facilitated by a partnership enabling the sharing of costs and resources with the Regroupement des Clubs d’Âge d’Or of La Vallée-de-la-Gatineau and of Les Collines which had, at the time, an office in the Sainte-Céciles-de Masham sector of the La Pêche municipality. At the same time, a service agreement with TransporAction Pontiac, including a payment made by the CTCC, made possible the servicing of the Pontiac municipality, providing coverage for the entire territory.
An accessible transit service was established in La Pêche municipality in 1997. The municipality took direct charge of the service management, while operations were led by a private transport contractor. In 2005, La Pêche municipality joined together with different industry partners to create the first paratransit agency in the RCM of Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais. Therefore, Société de Transport de La Pêche (STL) was founded on 15 April 2005 and became the representative organization of the municipality, offering paratransit services for the area.
In 2008, discussions began with the Val-des-Monts municipality, with the aim to establish paratransit services for its territory. After several months of work, and still guided by a cooperative spirit focused on citizens’ needs, the paratransit service was officially launched on 2 February 2011 at a press conference held at the Chalet Parc Thibault in Val-des-Monts.
A Single Ticketing System
In April 2008, the boards of the CTCC and the STL reached an agreement to hire an Executive Director to act jointly for the two organizations. According to this agreement, under the new joint management, the two organizations joined forces with a vision to launch the concept of a single ticketing system in regards to the transportation of individuals in the RCM of Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais, under the name Transports Adaptés et Collectifs des Collines.
In September of the same year, the CTCC and the STL met for their first day of strategic joint planning. On this day, the overall trajectory for the joint development of the two organizations and the mobility of individuals in the RCM territory of Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais was outlined. Within the framework of a vision for a single ticketing system, the organizations moved to better-equipped offices, and progressed to the writing, then the submission of their Three-Year Development Plan 2008-2010; the creation and installation of a joint corporate image; the creation of a unified board of directors; the addition of a tax assessor and a development officer; and the creation of a communication plan in order to increase the supply and demand in regards to services.
In November 2013, in accordance with the Strategic Development Plan 2011-2014, the single ticketing system was bolstered by the complete merging of its two supporting organizations.
Public Transit Component
In 2006, the RCM of Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais adopted a strategic plan whose aim was, among other things, “to create a sustainable development model.” This strategic orientation would be reflected in a number of the RCM’s executive summaries and bring the issue of sustainable mobility to the forefront.
Many stakeholders in the RCM of Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais have since mobilized, with an eye to reorganizing and improving passenger transportation services within the territory. First and foremost, Transcollines (formerly known as Transports Adaptés et Collectifs des Collines), the RCM of Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais, the municipalities of Cantley, Chelsea, La Pêche and Val-des-Monts, the Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais CLD and the Conférence Régionale des Élus de l’Outaouais established the following objectives:
- To increase the frequency of service;
- To provide expanded geographic coverage;
- To maximize investments;
- To promote intra-territory mobility;
- To take local ownership of an important development tool;
Since then, Transcollines has developed a preliminary service plan with the support of consultants and all community stakeholders, namely, the municipalities, community groups, the CSSS, citizens, businesses and employers, as well as the Ministère des Transports du Québec (Ministry of Transportation of Quebec) and the Ministère des Affaires Municipales et de l’Occupation du Territoire du Québec (Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy of Quebec). This first service plan was presented to Société de Transport de l’Outaouais (STO) in the summer of 2012 and submitted for discussion in November and December of 2013 during a public consultation process in which more than 250 citizens participated. The present service plan is the result of a revision process undertaken on the basis of the needs and desires expressed by citizens and current and potential Les Collines users. The revision was also performed in collaboration with the STO and the city of Gatineau in order to take advantage of opportunities and take into consideration the challenges specific to Transcollines’ partners.
A Story in Progress
With the creation of a new public transit service, 2015 marked an important milestone in the history of sustainable mobility for people in the Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais territory. The local communities of Les Collines now have access to an essential service that is also an important tool for development. The upcoming years will be devoted to strengthening these gains and fully benefiting from their development and continued improvement. There are still needs to be met and sectors yet to be serviced. In close collaboration with its users and partners, Transcollines intends to pursue the path that has been laid out during the past several years of hard work.