Carefree Transportation History
Carefree Society was formed in 1971 and incorporated in 1973. It started as a project designed to solve the continuing problem of accessibility for persons with disabilities who required specialized transportation to fully participate in our community. Carefree Society was the first in the province to provide this type of transportation.
The founder, Kirk Gable, started operating the service with one driver working out of his own home and using his own car to provide transportation for seniors and children with disabilities. The service expanded to 2 drivers and one dispatcher/manager operating driver owned vehicles. In 1974 the Variety Club donated a 12 passenger van and in 1979 the BC Lions Society and the local Kinsmen Club donated vans that were equipped with hydraulic wheelchair lifts. Funding was obtained through a Local Initiatives Grant which covered all the operating costs. In 1976, Carefree began charging 50 cents a ride which increased to $1.00 a ride in 1979. This helped cover operating costs and staff was expanded to 4 full-time drivers and a full-time mechanic.
Carefree Society's model for Custom Transportation Service, developed by Lilla Tipton, was used by Transit to set up what is now known as HandyDART in other communities across BC. In 1981, Carefree bid on and was awarded the first contract to operate the HandyDART service with BC Transit and the City of Prince George and has held the contract ever since. In 2004, Laura Kiteley, the Executive Director, developed a train-the-trainer package that was used in training events across the province. In 2006, Carefree was awarded the Community Bus contract in addition to HandyDART. The Community Bus operates on fixed route service, the Hart 91, in a low ridership area in the Hart Highway. The Community Bus model included integrating HandyDART passengers who lived within proximity to the bus route.
In 2008, HandyDART service increased to 7 days a week and the Hart 91 began operating on all statutory Holidays except Christmas. Currently there are 12 drivers, 1 full time dispatcher, 1 part time dispatcher, an Assistant to the Executive Director and the Executive Director. All mechanical work is now contracted out and we rent a satellite shop in the winter for indoor parking for 3 buses out of our fleet of 8.