Mark Sture said complaints are starting to decrease regarding the new bus schedule.
© Times-Herald photo by Lisa Goudy
A bus drives up Main Street over the noon hour on July 30, 2014. The bus schedule changes were largely made to accomodate an evening service.
“Certainly I think that now people are getting used to the service. Those calls are lessening and I think it’s just a change and people are getting used to the change,” he said.
Most of the complaints he has received are related to the biggest bus schedule change. While buses now run until 10:15 p.m. Monday to Friday, the mid-day service has been reduced from a half an hour to a one-hour service.
“Unfortunately, the pot of money didn’t get any bigger. So we had to try and stretch what we had,” said Sture, the city’s transit manager. “The only effective way that we could do it was to look at some of our numbers and look at some of our midday ridership and that’s where ridership I wouldn’t say is gone, but it does lessen during the day.”
The change was implemented to provide the evening service. Stores such as Wal-Mart and Superstore are open late at night and the change is to accommodate those who are working, shopping, going to school or participating in recreational activities.
“One of the reasons for that is years ago when the previous schedule was set up, we didn’t have the big box stores. We didn’t have the mall open every night. We didn’t have as much opportunity for evening programs at SIAST. So now we have all that stuff,” he said.
The change to include the evening service came about after a detailed transit review, which took two years to complete, and it was presented to council through the transportation advisory committee minutes. Sture, drivers and the Regional Intersectoral Committee (RIC) completed the review.
The when and where of the bus schedule was also dictated in the review. There are also plans to serve the new hospital, West Park, Westheath and New Rock subdivisions.
“We know that we have to serve those areas. It’s just a question of time,” said Sture. “We can’t go in there until the roads are finished.”
There aren’t any numbers of people using the evening service yet, but seeing as it is July, it’s also vacation season, he said. SIAST isn’t offering all of its evening programs in the summer and there aren’t as many evening recreational activities.
“We did a count the second week of July, the second week of operation and the numbers are comparable to wehere they were in August of last year,” he said. “It’s summer numbers. They’re not going to be as high as February, but I’m not unhappy with them.”
There was also a 25-cent fare increase. The fares went from $2.25 per adult to $2.50 per adult per ride. The last time there was a fare increase was January 2011.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to put the costs up, but we need to recoup something from the fare boxes,” said Sture. “Last year we recouped about 35 per cent from revenues and the rest comes from the general tax pool.”
There hasn’t been any pushback regarding the increases, he added, because most people accept prices must go up.
“Ideally in a perfect world, passenger numbers will grow and we can find the money to go back to half-hour service all day, but we need the passengers to come aboard to do that,” said Sture. “I encourage everybody to get out there and use the service.”
For more information, visit the city’s website at moosejaw.ca under the transit section or call 306-694-4488.
Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.