CORNER BROOK — The time is getting close for the City of Corner Brook to make some kind of a decision as to what will become of the city's transit system.
To make that decision the city is turning to residents.
"We're still trying to get feedback from people on ways to improve the service to them. We're still trying to come up with ways to improve ridership and increase ridership," said Coun. Donna Francis.
Francis, chair of the city's operational services committee, said residents can have their say by completing an online transit survey on the city's website, www.cornerbrook.com.
The survey was launched in late June and will be open until about the first week of August.
Francis said it questions people about why and how often they use the bus, how it could be improved and what they think of the technology, like NextBus, added to make riding easier.
She said the aim is to have the data collected through the survey compiled before the end of August.
That's when a trial period for changes to the service comes to an end.
The trial period which included an extended schedule on the Murphy Brothers Ltd.-operated buses started last September.
Since then monthly reports have shown some improvements in ridership numbers.
For instance, Francis said June of this year saw an eight per cent increase in riders over the same month last year.
"But are those increases significant enough to make it worth it dollarwise is what we're going to be looking at at the end of the day."
Francis said ridership on the bus service has steadily declined over the years and in response to that the service was reduced through the size of buses, a reduction in routes and operating time.
As a last ditch effort, she said the city put money into trying to increase ridership through system improvements and marketing initiatives.
She said the service as it exists right now will be maintained past the trial end as the city moves to compiling and analyzing all the information it has compiled.
She said the contract with Murphy Brothers has been extended by about six months to allow for that process to be completed.
"Just so that we can evaluate the information and decide where do we go from there.
"In the very near future we're going to have to either enter into a new contract with whichever provider we come up with or, hopefully not, I dread to say, end the service if it's not feasible."