P.E.I. government looking at boosting public transit funding to meet rising demand

·2 min read
T3 Transit will be putting more buses into service to meet the demand, and says other vehicles are on order. (Pat Martel/CBC - image credit)
T3 Transit will be putting more buses into service to meet the demand, and says other vehicles are on order. (Pat Martel/CBC - image credit)

The P.E.I. government is poised to boost funding for public transit across the Island, according to the province's transportation minister.

Cory Deagle says demand has been increasing, and the province wants to ensure the service is available for people when they need it.

On Wednesday, it wasn't. Some passengers travelling to Charlottetown from Georgetown and Montague were turned away because the bus was full.

"Perhaps … we could have done a better job anticipating it. We didn't," Deagle said.

"I don't think we expected this much demand. It's a good thing, but … we want people to know that it's a reliable service, and if they've booked a seat or if they want on the bus, that when they get there, they'll have a seat."

Ridership continues to be high

T3 Transit's Mike Cassidy said about 4,800 people used the service in Charlottetown on Wednesday. The average daily count before the COVID-19 pandemic was about 3,000 to 3,300.

Cassidy said sales of monthly bus passes, which provide unlimited rides, have never been higher.

"Public transit is meant to be affordable, our government has made sure it's affordable, and the result is numbers that no city our size has ever seen across this country."

Earlier this year, the province said it would provide funding to let T3 cut the cost of monthly bus passes for all routes in the province in half, as rising gas prices and other inflationary forces took a bite out of Islanders' wallets.

Newer, bigger buses are on order, Cassidy said.

But until they arrive, he'll be putting more buses on the service both in the city and on P.E.I.'s rural routes to meet the demand.