PERTH COUNTY – With the gradual decrease in pandemic restrictions, decreased rider hesitancy and increased customer awareness and marketing efforts, PC Connect ridership has resumed a positive growth trend.
“In August, PC Connect serviced 81 rides on Route A and 44 on Route B for a total of 125 rides,” said Transit Coordinator Maggie Martin. “So from November to Aug. 31, PC connect has serviced a total of 970 rides with 750 on Route A and 220 on Route B.”
Route A services the northern end of Perth County and Route B services the south.
Since July, Martin said the ridership has shown an average growth trend of 25 per cent over a month which she referred to as “optimistic for the service.”
The PC Connect team expects its booking app to be available by October. Once implemented, it will allow riders to digitally secure their seat, pay for their ride using a variety of different payment methods, and also get real-time updates and notifications regarding the bus’s exact location. The PC Connect team is confident that the app will enhance the overall customer experience.
PC Connect has begun focusing marketing and advertising efforts on community outreach. Staff are working to educate service and social groups, employers, and school boards throughout the county and surrounding areas about the service, to grow the PC Connect ridership base and becoming a key partner in organizational success. To date, staff have provided informative presentations to residents through organizations such as the Conestoga Careers Centre, Immploy, and WIL Employment Connections.
Brenda Page is a new driver for PC Connect but she says she’s really enjoying the job.
“What I can say is that I really respect the company for the precautions that they have taken and what I have to do for public safety,” she said. “The passengers are very compliant. Everybody wears their mask.”
In the seven weeks that she’s been on the job, she’s noticed an increase in familiar faces beneath the masks.
“We’re having more customers every day – I have regulars on my route,” said Page.
She was filling in on Route A when she spoke with the Listowel Banner on Sept. 4, which isn’t her usual route. Most of the time she’s on Route B in the south end of the county. Some of the regular riders she sees are students who work in Stratford but live in St. Marys.
“They’ll get a ride into Stratford to work and then the parents take them home at night,” said Page. “A lot of people who don’t have means of transportation come into town just to spend the day in Stratford so they’re not stuck in Mitchell or St. Marys. I think that’s absolutely fabulous to see them getting out of small towns and coming to Stratford… The woman who just got off the bus just discovered us, she has family in St. Marys and London. She’s from Listowel, she has an opportunity now to visit her family at a reasonable price. I always like hearing stories like that.”
Page had a suggestion for riders that are not familiar with the timing of the routes. “Call our office and have our staff assist you with getting on the right bus at the right time,” she said. “Unfortunately the other day we had two people get on in Mitchell to come to Stratford, that’s only a 20-minute drive but they didn’t read the schedule properly, they ended up having to be on the bus almost two hours – they were OK, they weren’t upset but they certainly learned a lesson to make sure they looked at the schedule so if there is anything I would suggest, call the office and you’ll get assistance.”
The number to call is 1-888-465-0783. The phone line is getting busier so be sure to leave a message and the PC Connect team will get back to you.
Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner