Director Dominique Tremblay presented Russell Township council with a good news report from the economic development department on the 2019 ridership figures for the local public transit service. The number of riders has increased to the point that another bus is needed on the morning and afternoon routes, to prevent “standing room only” situations for Russell Transpo passengers.
“Since November, we have noticed an increase in ridership on our buses,” stated Tremblay, referring to ridership figures for Russell Transpo’s 2019 operation season. “While observing the statistics, and being in contact with 417 Bus Line, some routes were at capacity and two to three passengers sometimes had to make the route while standing inside the bus.”
Tremblay noted some “minor changes” were made in mid-November, last year, to the Russell Transpo schedules, to try and better distribute passenger numbers. As of January this year, the increase in ridership numbers has continued to increase, and there are times when as many as five people have to make their bus ride standing up.
Other temporary scheduling changes are planned to try and compensate, but Tremblay recommended council approve an addition of another bus to the Russell Transpo morning and afternoon runs. The extra bus assignment would be on a six-month trial basis, to allow her staff to monitor whether ridership numbers continue to increase.
The addition of another bus on the schedule means revising the township’s contract with 417 Bus Line for public transit service. The cost for a six-month addition of an extra bus on the schedule will amount to $66,780, including HST.
Other news in Tremblay’s report included a note that public transit revenue for the township has increased more than originally anticipated, creating a transit revenue surplus in the 2019 budget. Council decided to set aside $7000 of the surplus towards covering some of the extra cost of an additional bus on the route schedule. The rest of the 2019 transit surplus will go into the municipal general reserve fund.
Council also approved recommendations to increase the monthly bus pass to $253 and the monthly student pass to $182. Also approved is a 50 per cent rebate on monthly passes and bus ticket booklets to riders who have a valid Canadian National Institute of the Blind (CNIB) identification card.