Getting more transit options to people in Prince Edward County is something very realistic.
According to Neil Carbone, the Community Development Coordinator for the County, it’s not a pie in the sky idea.
There were two open houses held on Thursday, one in Wellington and one in Picton.
Carbone says there are already some areas in the County that see public transportation and they are trying to create a transit system that isn’t cost-prohibitive.
According to their records, there were 3,950 users of the existing transit options in 2016.
Carbone says both open houses were both fairly well attended and well received.
There were four key priorities identified.
The first is to develop a rural on-demand system. Carbone says residents would be able to use Quinte Access to make on demand trips. The County would be divided into zones, with transit available on specific days of the week.
The next priority would be to create a partnership with Belleville Transit, which would streamline the existing Deseronto Transit service in Belleville and Picton. This would allow seamless transfers with Belleville Transit with no additional fare required.
The third priority would see weekday shared-ride on-demand service in Picton using local taxis or Quinte Access vehicles.
The final priority identified would provide weekend service from Belleville to Picton to the Sandbanks Provincial Park during the summer (late May to early September). It would also extend Integrated On-demand service during summer weekends to allow passengers to transfer to other locations.
Carbone says there are a number of groups and organizations involved in this to make it work.
He says a full plan will soon be available online and people will be able to ask questions.
The plan would then appear before council in the late spring/early summer for endorsement. If endorsed, the roll-out of the transit plan could begin this fall beginning with the introduction of the weekday integrated on-demand service (year round).
Carbone didn’t deny cost is a big factor when it comes to developing a system that not only works but is also affordable.
He says the proposed strategy takes advantage of existing resources to minimize cost and increase sustainability.
The annual net operating cost could increase from $15,000 to $175,000 says Carbone, and over half of this cost can be offset by provincial gas tax or other funding.
He says there is also funding available from both the provincial and federal governments for transit projects in the coming years which they will look to take advantage of.