ON: Burlington Plans to Move Buses to Busier Routes

Burlington wants to bring buses to the commuters this fall.

The city's community services committee recently approved a 16-month pilot transit service plan that looks to reallocate services from areas of low ridership to routes with greater demand, starting Sept. 2.

The report compiled by the city's transit staff will go to city council Monday.

Staff estimate the redirection of 10,300 transit service hours will generate 75,000 more revenue boardings (not including transfers) and $174,975 in additional fare revenue.

"There was a desire to increase ridership and also to rationalize services in areas where the ridership is low," said Burlington's director of transit, Donna Shepherd.

They focused on areas where the number of boardings was fewer than 15 per revenue hour, and where the revenue-to-cost ratio was less than 30 per cent, she said - adding the revenue-to-cost ratio is the percentage of returns in the fare box that covers the expenses required to operate the route.

Shepherd said they plan on moving hours from underperforming to routes to areas where a greater frequency of buses is needed to mitigate ridership losses.

For example, the Plains/Fairview route would be altered to provide access to Burlington Mall via Prospect Street between Guelph Line and Cumberland Avenue. According to the proposed plan, bus frequency on that route would increase to 30 minutes from 60 minutes, from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sundays.

The plan also outlines a new Plains Road Express Service slated to run weekdays between the Burlington GO Station and downtown Hamilton every 30 minutes from 6 to 9 a.m., and 3 to 6 p.m.

They are also looking at a new "employment corridor service," on North Service Road, South Service Road, Harvester Road and the Mainway/Sutton areas, Shepherd said. He said the city does not currently have to purchase new buses for the pilot project, but the employment corridor service may require more vehicles.

The pilot transit plan also includes a corporate transit pass program, which gives city employees a 20 per cent discount.

"Generally speaking, as you move further to the outer perimeters of the city, your population density drops ... your educational institutions are less likely to live there, so (you see) a ridership decline," said Don Hull, Hamilton's director of transit.

But the city has not made any downward adjustments to its transit service levels, in at least the past 10 years, he said, adding service demand is a large factor in planning the routes.

Hamilton recently introduced a Waterdown route that operates every 30 minutes during the peak hours on weekdays. Council approved a $2.7 million transit service enhancement plan last year that will be rolled out over three years.

Most of the enhancements will be complete in September, Hull said, adding the Delaware West bus will be extended to Ancaster Meadowlands Saturdays and Sundays this fall.

dawong@thespec.com

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