Lambton Shores is just a few steps away from launching a bus route that would connect Grand Bend to London and Sarnia.
The Huron Shores Area Transit project is in its final stages, now seeking signatures of support from area residents to complete a licensing process. If approved, the buses would start running in late October.
The Sarnia to Grand Bend route would include stops in Forest, Kettle Point and Port Franks. The line from Grand Bend to London would have stops in Dashwood, Exeter and Lucan.
Additional routes would connect to Bayfield and to Parkhill and Ailsa Craig.
Exact bus stop locations are still being finalized.
“It is quite a huge space and area to work with,” said Marina Cajic, transit co-ordinator with the Municipality of Lambton Shores. “We’re just figuring out how to best do it.”
The municipality has signed on with Voyago, a common bus service provider in many of the region’s rural areas.
As part of the licensing process, Lambton Shores and Voyago are required to gather signatures of support from residents of each of the municipalities the bus would pass through: Lambton Shores, North Middlesex, South Huron, Bluewater, Sarnia and London.
Once the signatures are in place, the bus route can get up and running.
“A lot of people think this is just for tourism, but we have quite a bit of an aging population here as well,” Cajic said. “People need to get to appointments, or they want to do groceries . . . (the bus) is really for travel, work, leisure and appointments.”
She said the route is also beneficial for students at Lambton College or at London’s post-secondary institutions who may seek co-op education opportunities in Grand Bend.
By launching the route in the fall, Cajic said it gives time to work out any kinks by the time summer rolls around, when she expects the bus will be popular for day-trippers visiting the beach.
Fares are expected to be $5 for shorter trips, and $10 for those all the way to Sarnia or London.
The transit project is funded by the province of Ontario, with funding guaranteed for three years.
“Over the past couple years, when we talk with community groups about what they’d like to see, transportation always comes up,” said Lambton Shores Mayor Bill Weber. “It’s important to have the community connected.”
Residents can sign in support of the bus route at https://form.jotform.com/202526177163251.
Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press