Ridership on Grey County’s transit service from Owen Sound to Orangeville has seen a dramatic increase in ridership.
Grey County CAO Kim Wingrove updated county council about the Grey Transit Route (GTR) on July 28. Since April 1, when the county expanded the service to more days per week and more runs per day, total ridership has gone up by 240 per cent.
“I’m pleased to be able to let council know that the public has responded favourably,” said Wingrove. “It enables travel that would otherwise be impossible for people.”
The CAO presented a full report on the service showing the increasing ridership numbers. In January 2022, a total of 482 people rode GTR. By June 2022, that number had skyrocketed to 1,750.
Wingrove said the increase in ridership has led to the buses being booked almost to capacity on some days leaving little room for walk-on passengers. She noted while this is good news, it also brings a set of new problems as the service must allow walk-on passengers to be enrolled in Google Transit.
In her report, Wingrove asked council to approve $322,200 in additional funding over the 2022 budget to continue operating the service. Part of the extra money is to defray additional fuel costs that have risen in recent months. The remainder of the extra funding will allow the county to continue to run the service on the extra days that have proven to be popular.
Wingrove said a decision point on the service will come in the future. She said the provincial government provides $700,900 in fixed funding for the program, however the CAO explained that eventually, that funding is expected to end.
“The question I’m asking council is to provide your thoughts where you want to be with this service going forward,” said Wingrove. “I think we have a policy decision to make here.”
Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca