The future of Russell transit service at stake?
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.
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.