Extended service Monday through Saturday, an added Sunday service, expanded coverage to Industrial areas, and more frequency to shopping centres are part of the Tuesday’s announcement by the city of St. Thomas to improve the 150 year old transit system.
"I think it’ll change if you want to go for a late supper, at a restaurant. Before the last bus would leave here at 6:15 p.m., so I think it’s going to open up for entrainment for people," says transit user, Lori in regards to the extended service.
In addition to the expanded schedule there will be new stops, shelters and passenger amenities, as well as upgraded transit hubs at the SmartCentres and Elgin Centre locations.
"It’ll all be so nice when it’s snowing people will find…better shelter," says Stefano, who uses the transit at least once a week.
Bus service will now run until 9:45 p.m. Monday to Saturday, an extension of four hours.
A new Sunday service will see buses run from 9:15 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. There will also be increased service to the industrial areas, allowing people to get to and from work.
"As a community of over 40,000, we said, we don’t have a transit system that matches our style or size and we said let’s do it," says St. Thomas Mayor, Joe Preston
The improvements at the transit hubs will see larger shelters and seating areas, and an increase of new stops and shelters across the network.
Charlene Carter, a daily user says the new shelters will benefit the most vulnerable
"I don’t usually sit down until I’m on the bus, but I’m sure a lot of seniors will appreciate it."
The final preparations are expected to be completed over the next few months, with the new system expected to launch in early 2021. But the transition to electric buses, as promised during a joint funding announcement with Federal and Provincial politicians in August will take longer
"And we will get there, Right now there just isn’t a manufacturer of them in Canada. So we’re joining other communities who are looking for the same thing. And we’ll move forward with that, that’s not going to stop us, we’re not going to wait for that to happen, to move into a better transit system," says Preston.
There will also be a new name when the system comes on line in the first quarter of 2021, Railway City Transit.