Guelph Transit launched changes to its system on Sunday that are being hailed as the most significant in the past 10 years.
Highlighted by the new 99 Mainline route that stretches from the Wal-Mart to the north to Clair Road in the south, the changes include routes, bus stops and schedules.
“Overall, the idea of this is to speed up the system, speed up the frequencies and allow people to get where they want to go quicker,” said Guelph Transit General Manager Mike Spicer. “Then we can compete against the automobile.”
Mayor Cam Guthrie was joined by councillors Cathy Downer and James Gordon, plus Guelph Transit staff, for an inaugural run of the 99 Mainline route on Sunday morning.
During the university year, Spicer said 40 busses a day were having to leave people at the bus stop because they were full.
“We just couldn’t fit everybody on the bus,” he said.
“The 99 Mainline is the first start of trying to do a new high order of transit,” said Spicer.
“What I’m hoping is that people will be able to walk out to Gordon Street or Woolwich and just know that a bus is coming. They won’t have to look at a schedule,” Spicer said.
Future plans for traffic signal priority, allowing busses to initiate green lights, will mean even more efficiency, he said.
“It will allow us to grow other routes into a higher order of transit. I’m seeing the shift into more of a grid rather than a hub and spoke,” Spicer said.
“One of the complaints I hear from people is ‘why do I have to go downtown if I don’t want to go downtown?’ or ‘why do I have to go to the University Centre if I don’t want to go to the University Centre?’”
Steven Petric, citizen chairperson of the Transit Advisory Committee, said the changes are a good start to improving transit in the city.
“This is the best first step this city could have with the money we have,” said Petric, adding that the changes are the first real improvements in “at least” a decade.
“We are cautiously optimistic at the committee, so we think there’s great potential. There’s still areas that need to be worked on, but we think there’s going to be some coming.”
Petric said the 99 Mainline is the key.
“That’s the spine that will build the system. Everything will feed into it, everything will feed out of it. That’s the way transit systems are going.”
Spicer said the changes were implemented on Sunday because that is the start of the work cycle for transit workers and allowed for a smoother transition. It also gave drivers a chance to get used to new routes before things get busy on Tuesday.
Complete details of the changes can be found here on the city web site.