The city transit department will roll out its modernized route plan at the end of this month, before implementation begins June 25, says the transit manager.
Jason Bradshaw said in an interview last week nobody likes change, and some passengers will be unhappy, but once they get used to it, they’ll like it.
Under the modernization plan, for instance, hourly service to Raven’s Ridge and the Lobird mobile trailer park will be stopped and replaced with on-call service, Bradshaw explained.
“We did not want to abandon those communities, obviously, but we are trying to give the taxpayers the best bang for their buck.”
The Lobird and Raven’s Ridge areas were involved in the community outreach last year to discuss modernization of the service, he said.
Bradshaw said passengers in those areas will be able phone, email or fill out a form on the city website to request they be picked up at a specific time by a shuttle van during peak hours.
They’ll then be taken to the nearest transit hub. Peak hours will run from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Shuttle service will not be available during non-peak hours.
New transit hubs will be created at the Canada Games Centre and Yukon University, in addition to the hub downtown, he said.
Bradshaw said service to Riverdale, for instance, will increase during the peak hours from every 30 minutes to every 15 minutes.
The modernization plan, Bradshaw explained, will make things far simpler for people.
“It’s the foundation for the first step to add other layers on top of,” he said. “It’s going to be the springboard into the future for adding more service.”
Bradshaw they’ll be rolling out a communication strategy at the end of the month to educate the ridership about the pending changes to the transit service.
Some steps have already been taken, such as February’s release of a new app that lets riders know the schedule, and where the bus is on the route.
Riders can choose their favourite bus stop or stops, and the app will notify them when the bus is drawing close.
Riders can also use the app to purchase bus passes. Approximately $4,000 in revenue was generated initially through ticket sales using the app, but the revenue has climbed recently to more than $11,000, he said.
Sunday transit service began in March, Bradshaw noted.
“We are getting value out of Sunday service,” he said. “There is room to grow, obviously, but people are definitely using the bus on Sunday.”
Passengers will no longer have to get off the bus and transfer to another when a driver is scheduled to take a lunch break. Under the new system, a new driver will get on and take over the route.
“Once they get used to it, they are going to realize the benefits,” he said of the riders using the new service.
Bradshaw said June 25, a Saturday, was chosen as the implementation date because school will be over, and there are fewer passengers on weekends.
There was concern expressed by people who felt buses do not stop long enough at the hospital, and that people with mobility issues don’t have enough time to exit the hospital and make the bus, he said.
Bradshaw said the new service builds in more time for the hospital stop.
The new schedule, he noted, has been prepared, but staff are still doing the fine-tuning and finalizing preparation.
Going forward, Bradshaw said, they’ll be paying attention to where the demand is, and will adjust accordingly.
The new transit service, he said, was designed so it could be delivered without increasing costs.
“It’s going to help people get to their destination faster and more directly.”