Feb 18, 2010

Collingwood's transit system tops 100,000 riders

"Collingwood's transit system is on a roll.

Colltrans saw an increase of more than 18,000 riders in 2009. Ridership jumped to 110,877 riders in 2009 from 92,857 in 2008.

In 2006, the municipality spent more than $1 million - in government funding - to purchase three accessible buses as part of an overhaul of its transit system. The municipality also added more bus stops and shelters, which would be served by three routes.

In 2007, ridership was around 67,000.

Ed Houghton, president of Collus and executive director of public works, said the goal for 2009 was to increase ridership to 100,000.

'It was a pleasant surprise,' Houghton said. 'I think last year, we were just establishing new routes.'

Collingwood Mayor Chris Carrier feels the municipality has listened to the public when it comes to the transit system.

'I think we've gone out and done public consultation,' he said.

Carrier said the next step is getting more high school students to ride the bus.

He said the town should work with the schools and provide a free pass for students so they can get used to the service.

'I think it's still an opportunity to get them to be public transit users,' Carrier said.

Last year council also increased the hours of the service by 30 minutes in the morning (6:30-7 a.m.) and to 9 p.m., in the evening. The sixth month trial is set to expire next month.

During the trial period, the 6-7 p.m., period has seen the largest amount of riders, with an average of about 10.

Houghton said he will be making a presentation to council next month on the future of the extended hours.

The morning period only averages about three riders, but in conversations with bus drivers - it's an important service for those using it. He said people working at the hospital or nursing homes use the service.

'I would have thought there would be more,' Houghton said.

Houghton said they are brainstorming some new programs in an effort to get more riders, especially students.

'We're playing with different ideas of how we can get more riders,' he said.

Houghton said there has been preliminary talk about partnering with Wasaga Beach and connecting the two transit systems.

Carrier feels the town will have to expand the service to a fourth bus and provide transit to the soccer fields at Fisher Field."

Collingwood's transit system tops 100,000 riders:

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