PC Connect ridership up 62 per cent in February

·3 min read

PERTH COUNTY – Following the provincial shut-down and decline of ridership in January, PC Connect Transit Project Coordinator Maggie Martin reported to Perth County council on March 18 that there was a 62 per cent increase in ridership in February.

During February, PC Connect serviced a total of 86 riders, with 73 on route A in the north end of the county, and 13 on route B in the south end. To date, routes A and B have serviced a total of 248 riders.

PC Connect continues to operate at 50 per cent reduced capacity to enable proper physical distancing on board all buses. In addition to reduced capacity, the service continues to enforce mandatory face-coverings, increased sanitization practices, and encourages the use of hand sanitiser while entering and exiting buses. The emphasis continues to be on the use of the service for essential travel. Staff are working with HPPH to determine a safe and responsible timeline to resume marketing efforts.

“I am pleased to confirm that our brand new buses hit the road earlier this week,” said Martin. “Our new fleet has been fully decaled with front, rear and side branding which not only identifies our service to our riders but also acts as functioning marketing to help spread awareness throughout the county and build our brand recognition.”

In response to a recent request by council to add stops at vaccination centres, Martin said discussions have started with the service provider Voyago, Huron Perth Public Health, social services and Perth County Paramedic Services to determine the feasibility and demand for PC Connect service at the mass vaccination centres.

“With the service as it is today both routes A and B currently provide access to the Mitchell Community Centre as well as a connection at the terminal to the Stratford Rotary Complex through Stratford transit,” she said. “So we are confident that we’ll be able to add the additional vaccination centres within the county as needed while making minimal impacts or disruptions for our current riders.”

The process has already been initiated to set up bus stop agreements at these locations and PC Connect is already working with Voyago to confirm route timing and schedule changes.

“We are ready to implement these changes as efficiently as possible,” said Martin. “It is really important for all of our residents to have access to the vaccine and we’re hopeful PC Connect can help minimize a potential barrier that could deter people from doing so.”

Coun. Rhonda Ehgoetz said she did not understand the logistics of dropping people off for a vaccine appointment and was concerned about how they will get home.

“At the end of the day it’s a public transportation service and it’s not going to be the most efficient resource for people to get to their vaccines,” said Martin. “It will be another tool in the toolbox for those that are transit-dependent… it’s great that we can stop there and we have been working with social services as well to potentially encourage using the service one way in partnership with our local taxi services.”

To gather more insight regarding PC Connect riders and their use of the service, a rider survey will be available as a hard copy for riders to complete while onboard the buses. The survey has been designed to capture insight regarding the purpose and time of travel, which will enable the team to conduct more detailed analyses and make service enhancements.

The service continues to operate within budget. Due to the pandemic, PC Connect has underspent in marketing. Staff have reallocated excess funding to be spent in future years.

To date, the service has collected $4,443 in fare revenue.

Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner