Thursday, July 10, 2008

Layton's Back and Transit News

The Death of the 40 Minute Wait

If you take Guelph Transit, then you’ve noticed a change this week as the 40 minute schedule that has driven bus riders bananas over the past year has finally been eliminated for the more commuter friendly 20 minute schedule. This also means that bus stops will have posted times again, saving the guessing game and cell phone calls to Next Bus. And finally, the 54 Arkell route has been extended to leave from and arrive to St. George’s Square, instead of the University.

Starting Monday, the buses now leave downtown beginning at 5:40 am and will continue to depart every 20 minutes until 6:20 pm. After that, the next buses will go on their regular 30 minute rotation starting with the 6:45 pm until 12:15 am, Monday to Friday. Saturday and Sunday service will remain unaffected, as will the Perimeter routes.

After $1.7 million budget increase form this year’s council, Transit was able to buy the 10 buses it needed in order to offer three-times an hour departures from the Square. The 40 minute, peak time schedule was started last year as a cost saving measure to avoid any loss in service and to help combat missed transfers because of the way some buses would get behind schedule with traffic.

This will not come without some cost to the rider however. The cash fair is now up to $2.25 per ride, which is still a steal as compared to Grand River Transit in K-W ($2.50) and the TTC in Toronto ($2.75). For adults, 10 ride tickets will now cost you $19.50 and a monthly pass is $63.

But even with this improvement, Transit remains a work in progress for Guelph, which only last year began offering a holiday schedule. There are still calls out for the city to increase Sunday service past its 6:15 pm end time, as well as expanded routes. Guelph companies are also hopeful to negotiate special rates to get bus passes for their employees, especially now considering the new normal for gas prices.

Guelph-Eramosa Transit?

Last month, an article in The Wellington Advertiser, the Mayor of Guelph-Eramosa floated the possibility that Guelph Transit routes should be extended outside the city limits. Mayor Chris White said that if the objective is getting more people out of their cars, than it’s an obvious alternative to explore. “It’s to Guelph’s advantage to keep our people off their roads,” he said. The plan White discussed with Randall French, Guelph’s manager of transit services, involved extending bus service along Highway 7 to Rockwood, along County Road 124 west to Cambridge, and from Guelph to the Cross Creek/Blue Forest and St. Ignatius area. Mayor White went on to say though that this extended service won’t be a freebee. “The idea is for each municipality to pay for its own usage,” White added.

Get on GO More Often this Weekend

As part of an overall expansion of service, GO Transit has began to offer increased frequency and new schedules for Saturday, Sunday and Holiday services. The GO route from the Royal City to Georgetown and Brampton now offers eight trips, up from five, on the weekend and has been adjusted so that the bus now departs from the University Centre loop at the U of G campus, before stopping at the Greyhound terminal on Macdonell. The new schedules began on June 28.

Layton in Town for a Twofer

Federal NDP leader Jack Layton made two stops in the Royal City this week; his fourth and fifth respectively since Tom King was announced as the local NDP candidate in the upcoming by-election. On Canada Day, Layton witnessed a citizenship ceremony in Riverside Park before throwing out the first pitch at the Guelph Royals game against the Barrie Bobcats. Then, on Saturday, Layton and King hosted a community barbecue in Royal City Park, that was free and open to the public.

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