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To date, the town has completed and approved a transit feasibility study and a framework for implementation is in place with an initial budget of $100,000 and an aim to start small and gradually build. The system will be privately run and municipally funded, not dissimilar from York Region Transit’s business model, and, eventually, it will see a community bus servicing the urban area of Bradford with shared-ride taxis providing trips to rural areas and connecting to GO Transit’s train service. If all goes smoothly, the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury could have transit service rolling as early as this fall. In his presentation at the Bradford Public Library last Thursday, consultant Wally Beck of HDR Inc. outlined some of the work that’s been completed thus far in the town’s quest to establish a local transit system. However, most of the dozen or so people in attendance at the public open house seemed less interested in the past and more concerned about the future plans and when transit, in some form or another, could be up and running.
“One thing that can happen quickly is the taxi service,” Mr. Beck said. “With the community bus, it can take several months to get going, because you have to buy it.” To date, the town has completed and approved a transit feasibility study and a framework for implementation is in place with an initial budget of $100,000 and an aim to start small and gradually build. The system will be privately run and municipally funded, not dissimilar from York Region Transit’s business model, and, eventually, it will see a community bus servicing the urban area of Bradford with shared-ride taxis providing trips to rural areas and connecting to GO Transit’s train service.
Back in March, council voted to have the town’s active transportation committee continue work on the transit file and provide recommendations for an implementation plan in time for the fall. The goal for said document will be to lay out a means to make transit in Bradford a viable reality and establish a budget for it that meets council’s approval. Council also voted to have Mr. Beck continue on in his consulting capacity.
Part of forging the implementation plan will involve determining the cost to the taxpayer by finalizing agreements with local firms Town Taxi and Parkview Transit, estimating demand and fare revenue and confirming the availability of provincial and county funding, Mr. Beck said. Other pieces of the puzzle involve completing a co-fare agreement with GO Transit and securing the use of their station by Bradford Transit buses and the shared-ride taxis.
All of that will have to be worked out through the town’s transportation committee prior to being approved by council. In its initial phases, transit will be something of an experiment for Bradford. That’s one of the reasons the town has opted to move forward with local firms rather than tendering the business as any prospective bidders would be looking for long-term contracts with options for renewal, director of engineering services Deb Korolnek said.
“Parkview is here in town and they have the expertise, the drivers and the mechanics,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense to go anywhere else at this point.” Going local benefits the community as a whole, Ward 6 Councillor James Leduc said, adding that the current plan will also ensure transit starts up quickly. “This goes to council in September and, if it get’s approved, we’ll start with the shared-ride taxis right away,” he said. “We’ll have the agreements in place.” Implementing transit will also mean coming up with a fair fare.
A $3 exact-cash fare is suggested, while pre-paid fares, via tickets, passes or a smart card of some kind, would be discounted to about $2. Those taking a shared-ride taxi would pay about 25-per-cent of the pre-paid fare when traveling directly to GO Transit’s rail service or about 50 cents. Regular bus fare would apply on all other fixed route taxis. A two-hour free transfer is being considered. Three separate route concepts were presented as well all of which ventured through a combination of main roads and neighbourhood streets. Options 1 and 3 took were 37.2 kilometres and took one hour, 42 minutes to complete, while option two stood at 53.4 kilometres and would take two hours, 36 minutes to complete a round-trip.
For his part, Mayor Doug White expressed what he categorized as “healthy scepticism” about some of the route concepts put forward and questioned why a bus running strictly along Holland Street wasn’t listed among the three choices. No one in Bradford mentioned a need for transit until businesses began moving west, he said, adding that it’s vital that the town run transit to where people want to go, especially when one considers how heavily subsidized it could be.
“You’re budgeting 10-per-cent cost recovery, which means that 90 per cent will be subsidized by taxpayers many of whom may never step on (the bus),” he said. “Nothing frustrates people more than seeing empty buses go by their street.”See Next Story
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