Public transit woes brought to Orangeville council

January 25, 2024   ·   0 Comments


Orangeville Transit has a long way to go before it’ll convince many people to park their cars in favour of public transportation.

Martina Rowley, who moved to Orangeville in 2017, told council on Jan. 22, at a regular meeting, that her frustration has grown in that time with every promise to make the municipal bussing service better.

Rowley said school buses are still used the majority of time on the Green and Orange routes, and far too often on the Blue route. Using school buses means there’s no GPS tracking and the bus app doesn’t work.

The Blue route is too long, making it impossible to stay on schedule. Overall, buses are too often not on schedule.

A lack of washroom facilities for bus drivers can prolong route times. 

This current service won’t attract car owners and other non-bus users to convert, Rowley said.

The past three town councils have promised to make Orangeville Transit better, she said.

“Often I give up on my planned trip because the bus is so late,” Rowley said.

Council adopted the Sustainable Neighbourhood Action Plan (SNAP) in June 2019. One of the main trusses of that plan was a strategy for sustainable public transportation.

SNAP was to promote sustainable and efficient transportation options to move people and goods. It was hoped transit access would be improved enough to reduce single-occupancy vehicle use. And SNAP was to promote walking and biking by increasing the connectivity of transportation infrastructure.

“I feel the town is still falling short on too many of these,” she said. “Please do better with our public transit. Promises for significant improvements have been six years in the making already and it feels too much like lip service is being paid.”

Deputy Mayor Todd Taylor said there’s no defence for the town against Rowley’s complaints.

“What you’re saying is absolutely spot-on,” he said. “It’s clear and true. The bus system needs to be better. All of us know that.”

Tim Kocialek, the town’s general manager of infrastructure services, said one of the buses was taken out of service because it needed its fuel pump replaced. But then, the town was forced to wait two months for the pump’s arrival.

Staff are looking into adding another bus to the municipal fleet in the coming weeks, he said.

The service also has a number of short buses that are rolled out at peak times to ensure accessibility, Kocialek said.

“We are trying to work on the system, to keep it going,” he said.

Councillor Rick Stevens said staff needs to compile a report that details how much time buses are down.

“I think we owe it to the residents, to bring more information,” Stevens said.

Mayor Lisa Post said ridership has increased more than 100 per cent since the town made public transit a free service. And, she said, they want to maintain high numbers of bus users.

“We want them to continue to ride the bus,” she said. “And in order to do that, the buses need to be reliable. They need to be accessible.

“Transit doesn’t work unless it works well.”

Matthew Smith asked about the status of Orangeville Transit buses in November. At that time, school buses were being used to ferry people along the transit routes.

Smith asked about any developments toward getting an electric bus for the town.

Kocialek said money had been earmarked in the budget to conduct a study into possibly electrifying the Orangeville Transit bus fleet.

“The study is just being finished up,” Kocialek said. “Preliminary results look at this time like infrastructure isn’t available and the costs are kind of prohibitive to do electrification of our transit fleet.”

He said the full report on the study is expected to be finished in the next month or two. It will then be delivered to council.

“Electrification probably won’t happen in the near future with our buses,” he said.

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