PERTH COUNTY – Unfortunately, for PC Connect to provide direct access to the COVID-19 vaccination clinics, it has been deemed that significant route reconfigurations would be required.
“We were further investigating a separate vaccination shuttle that would be dedicated solely to providing round trips to each clinic through PC Connect however it was recently deemed non-feasible,” said Maggie Martin, transit project coordinator. “So because of our clientele who are dependent on the service daily to access essential needs we do highly recommend against making any changes and continue to encourage riders to leverage the connections that are currently in place.”
The PC Connect service currently provides access to the Stratford Rotary Complex on both routes A & B through a connection on Stratford Transit.
To create a safe environment for riders, the PC Connect fleet continues to operate at 50 per cent capacity to enable physical distancing; masks are mandatory, hand sanitizer is available and encouraged to be used at each entrance and pre-booked rides help maintain a manifest for contact-tracing.
“We are working to educate riders on what essential travel is through our organic social media channels,” said Martin. “For example to access groceries, prescriptions, healthcare and work that cannot be done remotely.”
Due to the current stay-at-home order, ridership in April decreased by approximately 20 per cent compared to March. In April, PC Connect had 135 riders on Route A in the northern end of the county, and 11 riders on Route B in the south end, for a monthly total of 146 riders. To date, PC Connect has serviced a total of 575 rides.
“To date, PC Connect ridership is trending at an average increase of 42 per cent month over month which is with little to no marketing efforts,” said Martin. “Unfortunately with the current landscape and extended stay-at-home order, we do continue to be in a holding pattern in terms of marketing and advertising. We are looking forward to the time it is safe and responsible to resume marketing efforts so that we continue building this growth trend.”
On behalf of the Southwest Community Transit Association, the City of Stratford has released a joint Request for Proposal for a digital transit booking application and web platform that will assist with booking for riders.
“We are confident that an online app will be a great asset for our service enhancing both the booking and the payment process for our riders,” said Martin. “We’re looking forward to having this implemented as early as this summer.”
PC Connect continues to operate within the grant funding provided by the provincial government. To date, the service has collected $5,810.70 in fare revenue.
Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner