One month into the service, the new bus connecting Elmira and St. Jacobs to Waterloo is getting good reviews, even if ridership numbers remain up in the air.
Supporters of Grand River Transit Route 21 hope it will build speed over the next few months.
The Elmira route, a year-long pilot project, was launched Apr. 6. Transit planner Neil Malcolm said they won’t have hard numbers for ridership until mid-month, but anecdotally the response has been good.
“We keep hearing from the operators that they’re getting a lot of positive feedback. People are very excited about the service,” he said.
“There’s an awful lot of times there’s a lot of people on it,” noted Woolwich Mayor Bill Strauss. “The feedback is excellent.”
The GRT collects ridership numbers in two ways: by totaling the fares collected each month, and using special buses equipped with automatic passenger counters. Thirty of the GRT’s 200 buses are equipped with the counters, and staff have requested that those buses be used more frequently along route 21.
Initially planners considered a larger loop of stops in Elmira but ultimately opted for a shorter loop and more frequent service. Malcom said they’ve gotten some feedback requesting more stops in town, and that may be something they look at in the future.
“If the route is successful, and I hope it is, we’ll be looking at providing other options in town, whether it’s a secondary route that hits the residential neighbourhoods or a modification of the existing route.”
They’ve also heard from employers like Home Hardware in St. Jacobs who like the service and would like to make it more convenient for their employees, perhaps by making changes to the schedule to better match shift times.
Malcolm said transit planners haven’t set a firm ridership number to determine if the new route will stay. They’ll be monitoring numbers over the summer to see if ridership picks up as more people incorporate the bus into their travel plans.
“We’ve tried to get the awareness out there, but maybe not everyone knows or knows how they can use it for their travel,” Malcom said. “I think we’ll be seeing ridership improve over time.”