Room to improve
Summerside council discusses city’s public transit options
Summerside City Council is considering creating a public transit committee.
The idea came up as part of a discussion about the city’s bus service during Tuesday night’s committee of council meeting.
Coun. Gordie Whitlock said he’d like to see the current transit system improved.
A dedicated committee was proposed as a way to further the goal.
“I truly believe that transit is an important part of a city. Even if we are a small city, we’re still a city. Cornwall has transit and they put three times into it what we put into it. Stratford is a town, they put in more than we do. But I think it’s important,” said Whitlock.
“I would like to see us pursue this in a meaningful way. See if we can come to some sort of arrangement with the province and federal governments to put in a proper GPS system app, proper shelters, proper maps and promote the schedule on our own website.”
Whitlock said he has had preliminary discussions with various stakeholders in the community, including Mike Cassidy, president of the service provider for Trius Transit, and Transportation Minister Paula Biggar, and all seemed open to working towards improving the service.
The city currently subsidizes the Trius Transit’s route in the city by about $1,500 per month.
Whitlock indicated, according to the numbers he has, about 3,248 people used the bus service in 2016, which is only up marginally from the 3,000 who used it during its first year in 2012.
There is definitely room for improvement, he said, and he believes that could be accomplished if the city was willing to go after funding partners to help with capital costs.
“If you look at Summerside, we have an ageing population, we have a lot of seniors, the hospital, the manors, Holland College, Credit Union Place, the GST Centre. There’s a number of areas that could possibly use public transit much easier if there were proper shelters (and) proper ways of finding out when the bus was coming,” said Whitlock.
Nearly every councillor spoke in favour of trying to improve the service, but some also questioned whether it would be money well spent.
“We just don’t seem to have much pickup. It’s been six years,” said Coun. Brent Gallant.
“We’ve always wanted (the service there) but what we have is not working.”
Despite his concerns, Gallant added he was willing to explore the subject further.