By Hugo Rodrigues POLITICS REPORTER
Friday April 04, 2008
City council unanimously approved the recommendations from the Mayor’s Transit Task Force, which has been working for almost two years to revamp Woodstock’s transit system with an eye to increasing ridership. The first phase of this makeover, as detailed in a comprehensive transit strategy report, will begin at the end of June, with a new fare structure in July and new routes possibly by October.
"Council is aware of broad public presentations on this," Woodstock Mayor Michael Harding said. "Not everyone was provided for immediately in this phase, but we have a plan in place."
With county’s vote, bus drivers will begin manually announcing stops to passengers beginning on June 30, which will require the installation of public address systems on each bus.
The following day, a new fare schedule will go into effect with the following changes:
• student fares will increase from $1 to $2 per ride;
• Han-D-Ride passes will cost $20 for 12 rides, a change from the current 22 rides for $35; and
• student and senior bus passes will drop to $40 per month.
Harding explained changes to the fares are structured to encourage consistent use of transit and the purchase of either the Han-D-Ride pass or a monthly pass.
Other changes approved by council will see a new logo and brand developed for Woodstock Transit, one that would be incorporated on the vehicles themselves as well as on bus stops, route maps and shelters. Bus stop signs, cement pads and shelters will be moved ahead of the intended October implementation date for the new bus routes.
Per the strategy the new bus stop signs will include information on the route schedule as well as the location of the next stop along the route.
The final mapping for the new bus routes will be available on the city’s website, and in new maps to be published prior to the change. Per the illustrated changes, the city will maintain six routes, but change them in order to accommodate service north of the Pittock Reservoir and into residential areas in the city’s northeast end.
Both routes travelling south of Dundas Street will overlap, providing double service to St. Mary’s High School and the Norwich Avenue box malls.
Implementing this first phase of the new Woodstock Transit comes at a cost of $126,000, to cover the new brand, new bus stop signs, the relocation of bus stops and the promotion of the new routes. Part of the funds will cover a contract staff position to manage the required changes.
Council’s work with the transit strategy isn’t yet complete- once enough new buses have been purchased to revitalize the fleet, Phase two changes could begin. Those include the addition of a seventh route in the city, an off-street transit terminal in the downtown core and the extension of service hours to evenings and Sundays.
Harding thanked Couns. Pat Sobeski and Connie Lauder for their service to the task force, along with city engineer David Creery and public works and transit superintendent Rick D’Entremont.
"If not already, this has the support of the drivers and hopefully, the people who ride," Harding said.