United Manitoulin Islands Transit receives funding to continue services

MANITOULIN—Funding being provided to United Manitoulin Islands Transit (UMIT) through the municipality of Central Manitoulin is welcome news critical to the continuation of the bus service. 

“It is indeed very good news, we are very happy,” stated Joahnna Berti, executive director of UMIT, to funding announced by the province June 28. “The province has extending our funding for an additional two years because of the pandemic (COVID-19). This is critically important to us.”

UMIT started in August 2020, said Ms. Berti. “We have fantastic strategic plans that this funding will allow us implement, while maintaining our regular operations.”

Richard Stephens, mayor of Central Manitoulin explained, “as you know, we became the lead municipality for funding for UMIT, to be flowed through. For the initial start-up of the UMIT service there was $500,000 in provincial funding provided (2018-2023) and now the province has extended this by two years (until 2025), with $105,000 in funding for each of the two years.” 

“This is very good news,” stated Mayor Stephens, who is a member of the UMIT board of directors. “We now are assured the service will continue for at least an additional two more years.”

The Ontario government is extending funding of up to $14 million over two years for communities providing transportation services in unserved and underserved regions across Ontario through the Community Transportation Grant Program.

Additional funding will help ensure transportation services in 38 communities across the province have additional time to fully establish their transportation services as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and build transportation services up to a sustainable level. This will better position municipalities to continue operating after the program has completed.

“The community transportation grant program is making life easier for people living in areas with few public transportation options,” said Caroline Mulroney, minister of transportation. “The additional investment in local and intercommunity transportation services will help residents, including Indigenous people, seniors and people with disabilities get to work, school or appointments and will give communities added security as they recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and plan for the future.” 

UMIT (through funding provided to Central Manitoulin) had received $500,000 in funding for 2018-2023 and now has received new funding of $210,095.62 for 2023-2025.

“It’s all good news,” stated Mayor Stephens. 

As was reported in last week’s edition of The Expositor, UMIT service resumed on July 5 with the regular schedule from Monday to Thursday continuing. 

The community transportation grant program is currently providing up to $30 million over five years (2018-2023) to 38 municipalities to deliver 43 projects. The funding announced June 28 will extend support for transportation services including bus service, on-demand shared rides and door-to-door transportation services supported by the program for two additional years.