PERTH COUNTY – Throughout the provincial stay-at-home order, PC Connect ridership decreased by an average of 32 per cent.
A report Transit Project Coordinator Maggie Martin presented to Perth County council indicated that in May, PC Connect had 62 riders on Route A in the northern end of the county and 20 riders on Route B in the southern end, for a monthly total of 82 riders. To date, PC Connect has provided a total of 657 rides.
“We are very excited that the stay-at-home order has been lifted,” said Martin. “So now that the stay-at-home order has been lifted we have received approval from the Ministry of Transportation to remove our essential travel only messaging and proceed with marketing our service as we see fit.”
PC Connect has started to organically encourage responsible travel to all needs, including retail and recreation, throughout the county and surrounding areas.
“Contingent on the evolving guidelines and the COVID landscape we do plan to ease back into our paid marketing efforts in step two to acquire new customers,” she said.
A Request For Proposal for a digital transit booking application and web portal booking platform closed on June 2, with a total of five submissions. The Southwest Community Transit Association’s Technical Committee started interviewing select candidates the week of June 14. Once the provider is chosen, each municipality will negotiate their terms and conditions, and enter into a separate agreement to implement the booking application by the end of the summer.
“The objective of this technology is to enhance the overall PC Connect rider experience by offering several options for riders to book and pay for their trip,” said Martin. “Once the tech is implemented our riders will be able to book their rides through either the app, a web portal or the toll-free phone number that currently exists… and they will also be able to track the bus in real-time so they know exactly when the bus is going to be showing up at the bus stop and when they will be able to reach their destination.”
Although the order for promoting essential use of the transit system has been lifted, PC Connect’s COVID-19 preventative measures will continue to be enforced for the foreseeable future. To create a safe environment for riders, capacity has been reduced by 50 per cent to enable physical distancing, masks are mandatory on board the bus, and hand sanitizer is available and encouraged to be used, as well as increased sanitization practices and special training for drivers. Riders are encouraged to pre-book rides to maintain a manifest for contact-tracing.
PC Connect continues to operate within the grant funding provided by the Government of Ontario. As of June 17, the service has collected $6,289.70 in fare revenue.
Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner