CORNER BROOK — After much uncertainty and public consultation, the future of the City of Corner Brook’s transit system should become clearer at tonight’s city council meeting.
That’s when the results of a transit survey which was launched in June will be released to council and the general public by Steve May, the city’s director of Operational Services.
The survey is part of the city’s ongoing Transit Improvement Trial launched last September in order to seek the public’s input into the future of the transit system.
Coun. Donna Francis, chair of the city’s operational services committee said the city received approximately 150 surveys, with 45 per cent of the surveys coming from those described as non-riders.
She admits council hoped to have many more completed surveys, and even placed student workers on buses in order to hand surveys directly to riders.
She said the city now must decide whether to keep the service at its current level, to reduce service to save money or to decide whether other, cheaper options would better serve the community.
With the current contract with Murphy Brothers Ltd. set to expire at the end of the month, Francis said time is running out for the city to make a decision. Despite extended schedules and improved marketing, there simply hasn’t been much of a spike in usage.
“While we have seen ridership increase, it hasn’t been significant,” Francis said. “It certainly not what we would have been expected and there’s some disappointment among council at the lack of riders using the system.”
Francis was particularly disappointed student ridership hasn’t risen, something she said the city will address when it meets again with local student groups in order to discuss other options.
As with most other centres, the city will need to subsidize its transit system but Francis said the city needs to decide how much money to devote to a system used by such a small pool of citizens.
“The question is how much are we willing to put in,” she said. “Are we willing to subsidize at 80 per cent when other communities can subsidize at 20 per cent?”