lsdar · 2021-03-30

Wasaga Beach extends bus service on trial basis

Wasaga Beach is putting a second bus on the road for a six-month trial period.

Council supported adding the bus on a temporary basis to see if shortening people’s travel time and expanding the service will result in an increase in riders.

Georgian Coach Lines began operating a bus service along Wasaga Beach’s main corridor in July. During the first month it had 556 passengers.

Georgian Coach Lines president Doug Harrison provided statistics that show ridership has steadily increased to 1,904 in March but said ridership fell by 400 in April.

The bus currently runs along River Road West and Mosley Street, traveling between Wasaga Stars Arena and 45th Street.

"Ninety percent of riders go to Wal-Mart and the [Real Canadian] Superstore," said Harrison.

The loop from one end of Wasaga Beach to the other takes one hour.

The town is hoping to put the second bus into service by June 1.

CAO George Vadeboncoeur said as of June two buses will travel two loops and meet in the middle where people will transfer to continue on their journey.

In the east end service will extend to the east as far as Deerbrooke and River Road East.

At a committee of the whole of council meeting last Tuesday council did not support purchasing a new bus at a cost of $120,000 or adding dial-a-bus for special pick-ups off the main route.

Georgian Coach Lines will use its existing passenger van as the second bus during the trial period.

The municipality received $19,950 in gas tax revenue from the Ministry of Transportation in 2008 and based on last year’s budget it is expected to receive $79,800 this year.

Vadeboncoeur said gas tax revenue is based on a complex formula taking into account ridership, population and the previous year’s operating costs. The municipality is eligible for up to 75 per cent of its costs.

Increasing the service will cost the municipality $84,000 plus additional capital costs over the six-month trial period.

"We are incurring a lot of expense to improve the existing system," said Councillor Stan Wells.

"I’m like Stan, we have got to know the net cost – the return on our investment but I think we need an expanded service," said Councillor Rick Archdekin.

"Correct me if I am wrong but there isn’t a transit system in Ontario that makes money but there is another return," said Councillor George Watson. "It’s a service, it’s just, what level of deficit do we want to run?"

Wells said he is prepared to see two routes in a trial basis noting it is very hard to take the service away once it is offered.

"But we may have to bite the bullet if it is not cost worthy," he said.

Councillors were expected to pass the expansion at last night’s regular council meeting but Vadeboncoeur said he has yet to meet with Harrison to iron out some of the details.