Town wants more information on County Transit plans

By Miriam King, STAFF

The Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury received a letter from the County of Simcoe on Sept. 12 asking for the town’s support for a new county-wide regional transit system, that would link member municipalities and growth hubs. A response was requested by Sept. 29.

But BWG council wanted more information on the potential financial impact, especially on the town’s share of gas tax revenues for its own municipal transit system, before supporting the county proposal.

Before the county can proceed, it needs the support of its member municipalities, explained CAO Geoff McKnight. One concern is that the County’s proposed Alliston to Bradford regional route overlaps with the existing municipal bus route along Holland Street. McKnight recommended staff investigate and clarify any potential impact on gas tax revenues, before recommending approval.

He warned that the staff report might not come back before the Sept. 29 deadline.

Council determined there was a need for more information, and asked staff to investigate.

Coun. Gary Lamb suggested there could be an upside. “Some of it looks like a natural extension of our transit system to Bond Head. An extension of our transit system with some county money coming in would be even better.”

The County of Simcoe Transit Feasibility and Implementation Study began in 2015, when consultants Steer Davies Gleave were hired to look at potential ridership, find ways to minimize capital and operating costs, and link regional destinations, providing connectivity to hospitals, senior centres, colleges, universities, employment areas and shopping hubs.

Key routes were identified, to be phased in over a 10-year period. The top priority is a connection is proposed between the separated cities of Barrie and Orillia; other routes link Barrie to Midland, Collingwood to Wasaga Beach, Alliston to Bradford, and Midland to Orillia.

The consultants proposed that the county pay 33% of the cost of a Barrie-Orillia link; 100% of the costs of inter-municipal routes.

A flat fare of $7 was proposed, with a $1 discount for passengers transferring from another transit system – a proposed cost-sharing with the municipal transit providers. Overall funding for the regional system could come from provincial gas tax revenues, development charges, fare revenues, and county taxes.
The system would operate Monday to Friday, providing 12 hours of service per day, at an estimated operating cost of $100 per hour, per route.