‘Get on the bus’: Middlesex County leaders kick tires on expanded transit

Middlesex County is literally on the move as local politicians tour the area promoting a range of transit services introduced last year to make stopping easier in rural communities.

The county has nearly $ 1 million from Queen’s Park to bolster public transportation over a two-year period, one of many grants for intercommunity and transportation projects in southwestern Ontario. It builds on similar funding from 2018 to 2023.

“When we launched it last September we were hoping everyone would be so excited and use it, and then we went into locks and no one went anywhere,” said Kelly Elliott, Deputy Mayor of Thames Center Middlesex County Connect Bus Service.

“After the restrictions are lifted, we really want to encourage people to get on the bus and use public transport.”

Most recently, Elliott accompanied Thames Center Mayor Alison Warwick and Middlesex County Warden Cathy Burghardt-Jesson for a day-long trip across county boundaries in the area.

The trio made their way from Dorchester to Tillsonburg using the city’s public transport system – known as T: GO – and later the Ride Norfolk to Simcoe shuttle service. With the help of Ride the Bine, a transportation company that runs craft beer, wine, and cider tours in southwestern Ontario, the group ended their day with wine tasting in Norfolk County.

The aim is to promote the micro-transit program and encourage passengers to use the various services and routes available, Elliott said, highlighting the affordable fares.

“For us to go from Dorchester to Simcoe in three counties, our bus fare was $ 16,” she said. “It’s super sensible.”

Kimberly Earls, Executive Director of the South Central Ontario Region Economic Development Corporation (SCOR EDC), welcomed the initiative and said it will help fuel the need for more accessible public transportation in rural Ontario.

“Rural transport is so important right now,” she said. “We have opportunities for the workforce, some great companies, and companies that are constantly looking for jobs. One of the problems they face is getting employees there and sometimes they have to look outside the region. ”

Expanding routes and offering additional bus times to match people’s timetables are some of the ways to fill that void, Earls said. Quoting the robust transportation systems in the GTA and London, she noted that rural communities “cannot get to this point if they don’t use what they have”.

With the help of the latest funding, Middlesex County is working with partners to launch a mobile app that will allow passengers to view routes and pay for bus fares online.

“At the moment everything is pretty manual. But we hope to make that easier, ”Elliott said, adding fares to be paid only with exact cash on the bus or with tickets bought in stores. “We hope to make this easier.”

For more information on transit routes, tariffs and timetables in southwestern Ontario, visit www.ride-sct.ca.

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