CORNER BROOK — Robert Leamon says city staff’s suggested adjustments to the transit service in Corner Brook is already ignoring public opinion.
The president of the Grenfell Campus Student Union, said a two-bus system, year round, and on an hourly schedule or a one-bus system, year round, and on an optimized route or scheduling a bus only during high usage times is taking the service in the wrong direction.
After a one-year trial of additional bus hours, routes and technology, the overall number of riders increased. However, the evening and Saturday schedules were deemed too costly for the small number of people who rode the bus.
One of the target rider groups identified in the trial was students, and they have been criticized at times for not utilizing the service. Leamon says the criticism is unfair, that the transit service is not optimal for students, and the proposed changes will take it further from what is needed for them to fully commit.
“I think it can change, but I think there needs to be an honest effort put into making that change happen,” he said.
There were additional bus hours added to the service, but Leamon said the routes need to be adjusted. The morning and evening service travelled the same routes, but the president said there were no changes to reflect the different habits of people during the different times of day. Since the numbers on Saturday were lower than regular weekdays, but higher than evenings, he said it is possible to work with that.
The overall number of riders increased, especially during the peak daytime hours, and the subsidy during that same weekday period was actually reduced during the trial period. That shows the service is vital to Corner Brook, Leamon said.
Against survey results
He also said reducing the number of hours of operation and the frequency of the service goes against the survey results. The top two reasons given in the survey for people not riding the bus was the hours of operation is too limited (22 per cent) and the service is not frequent enough (19 per cent). Also, reflecting Leamon’s statements were the third and fourth most popular reasons — the travel time is too long and routes don’t take me where I want to go (both 19 per cent).
Leamon is calling on the establishment of a public transit commission to help determine the future of the service.
“We need to be working together on actually finding out what works for people and what doesn’t,” he said.
The full presentation of the trial and survey results can be seen online at www.cornerbrook.com.