The fu­ture of Rus­sell tran­sit ser­vice at stake?

Le Reflet (The News) - - LA UNE - VICKY CHAR­BON­NEAU vicky.char­bon­neau@eap.on.ca

A fea­si­bi­li­ty stu­dy will be conduc­ted short­ly to help Rus­sell Town­ship de­cide whe­ther or not it should conti­nue of­fe­ring its tran­sit ser­vice to Ot­ta­wa.

As the Rus­sell Town­ship was going over the first draft of its 2018 bud­get last Oc­to­ber 18, the coun­cil ex­pres­sed its preoc­cu­pa­tion with the tran­sit sys­tem in place, as the ri­der­ship seems to be de­crea­sing des­pite the an­nual in­crease in mu­ni­ci­pal contri­bu­tion.

“I was here when this ser­vice first came in, back in 2009, and at that point in time, we pro­po­sed no more than $20,000 in mu­ni­ci­pal contri­bu­tion, said coun­ci­lor Ja­mie Lau­rin. Now it’s been hi­gher eve­ry single year, ba­si­cal­ly, and now we’re in the 100 thou­sands for a ser­vice that is being used by 1 per cent of the po­pu­la­tion – 150 users in the peak per­iod. I un­ders­tand from a growth pers­pec­tive, it’s so­me­thing that people keep saying is im­por­tant and at­tracts new people to come in­to the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty, but it hasn’t shown in the num­bers.”

To ana­lyze costs and eva­luate the fu­ture of Rus­sell’s tran­sit, the town­ship has the­re­fore been awar­ded a $25,000 grant to com­plete a fea­si­bi­li­ty stu­dy. This stu­dy will not on­ly eva­luate and re­view the exis­ting sche­dules and routes, but al­so the pos­si­bi­li­ty of the op­tion of an ex­press bus from Em­brun or Rus­sell or any other op­tions to in­crease ri­der­ship. In­ter­views will be conduc­ted with users and non-users to come up with an ac­tion plan.

Al­though the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty has been pu­shing the tran­sit with si­gns, sur­veys as well as in-bus Wi-Fi, GPS, and text mes­sage ser­vices in the last months, most of the concerns that users have are the long routes and the li­mi­ted sche­dules – es­pe­cial­ly among­st wor­kers with young chil­dren -, which re­sult in them not ta­king ad­van­tage of the ser­vice.

“We should be in­crea­sing the bus pass for the ex­tra ser­vices we’re gi­ving,” ex­pres­sed Mayor Pierre Le­roux, as an op­tion to save on taxa­tion. “Thro­wing an ex­tra $5 a month per user is not un­rea­so­nable, since they have re­ques­ted the ser­vices and have not seen an in­crease to their user fees in a few years.”

The stu­dy, which is ex­pec­ted to be pre­sen­ted in the be­gin­ning of the up­co­ming year, will pro­vide and im­me­diate as well as a long-term ac­tion plan, which should help the coun­cil make an in­for­med de­ci­sion be­fore the end of the contract with the ac­tual ser­vice pro­vi­der.

“I am ex­tre­me­ly hap­py that we are get­ting a stu­dy done on all of this, other­wise, I can tell you right now I would be can­cel­ling the bus ser­vice as soon as I could,” said Lau­rin to staff.

Ano­ther consi­de­ra­tion, yet to be confir­med and that may im­pact the ser­vice, is that users may no lon­ger be able to use the OC Trans­po, as their month­ly pass al­lo­wed them to in or­der to get a more di­rect route.

Other key high­lights of the 2018 bud­get were dis­cus­sed du­ring the work­shop. The first draft, which will be pre­sen­ted for adop­tion on No­vem­ber 6, along with pre­sen­ta­tion of high­lights, are avai­lable on the Town­ship’s web­site at rus­sell.ca.

—pho­to four­nie

L’ave­nir du sys­tème de trans­port de la mu­ni­ci­pa­li­té de Rus­sell se­ra éva­lué d’ici le dé­but de la nou­velle an­née. En ef­fet, une sub­ven­tion d’un mon­tant de 25 000 $ se­ra uti­li­sée pour com­plé­ter une étude de fai­sa­bi­li­té ayant pour but d’ana­ly­ser les coûts et d’éva­luer l’ave­nir du trans­port en com­mun de Rus­sell. Cette étude éva­lue­ra les as­pects sui­vants : les tra­jets et les ho­raires exis­tants, l’éva­lua­tion de l’op­tion d’un au­to­bus di­rect d’Em­brun ou de Rus­sell. Fi­na­le­ment, l’étude se pen­che­ra éga­le­ment sur des op­tions et un plan d’ac­tion concret pour aug­men­ter les uti­li­sa­teurs du ser­vice.

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