Owen Sound is a community of approx. 21,000 people and we are not unlike the other cities and municipalities of Grey & Bruce County were transportation accessibility, affordability and options are hard to come by not only for individuals but for our local businesses as well. Transportation is the answer to connecting communities and expanding opportunity for affordable housing, jobs and promoting car pooling options to help keep green house gas emissions at a minimum and travel affordable for the users.
Communities across Ontario, similar to Owen Sound, are increasingly realizing that transit helps alleviate many pressing problems, including those related to wealth inequality, climate change, housing, education, employment opportunities and not to mention mobility and loneliness for seniors.
It’s also a way to retain residents, according to Alex Piggott, transit coordinator for Tillsonburg, a southwestern Ontario town of 16,000. “If you’re in a small town and don’t have the means to get around, you have to leave the community,” he says. “You’ll see an exodus from places like Tillsonburg if you don’t have a service for people.” In 2016, Community Living Tillsonburg bought a van and launched a dial-a-ride bus service that had a flexible base route. The town took it over in 2018, bought a second bus, and, in August, launched two fixed routes with 29 stops each. Already, it’s attracting up to 40 riders a day.
Micro-transit is the way of the future especially when fixed public routes are becoming more and more expensive for municipalities to offer and a change in the delivery and infrastructure has to conform to meet the needs of small town residents and small centers know that businesses looking for a place to set up shop want transit.
According to a Ministry of Transportation report larger cities fares account for over 60% of the transit costs but alternatively in centers with fewer than 50,000 people, they cover, on average, only 35 per cent leaving small municipalities to pay a large portion to run their transit systems. In Lincoln ON, a town of approx, 22,000 people they estimate the transit cost is $263, 550 to run in 2019 with the gas tax and fares covering just under 75% of the cost but still leaving over $60,000 annually for the city to absorb and in Huntsville ON it is closer to $130,000.00 annually (https://www.tvo.org/article/how-small-ontario-towns-are-finding-new-transit-solutions).
The private sector has an opportunity to fill the transportation void in rural Ontario and it will be innovation and thinking outside of the box that will help revitalize our communities.
For more information on what Driverseat Owen Sound can offer please check out our web page at https://www.driverseatinc.com/locations/driverseat-owen-sound/