At Monday’s city council meeting, the horseshoe will debate a recommendation on expanding transit routes and schedules for the 2020 Guelph Budget, and of particular focus is a new route to the Hanlon Creek Business Park. Some on council are concerned about the expense, but the General Manager of Guelph Transit is firm that recommendation already made is the best direction.
In a staff memo from Robin Gerus included in the amended agenda for Monday’s meeting, Gerus said that the new #19 Hanlon Creek Business Park route is still the best option council can take to service that area. Some on council have suggested that route #16 Southgate could be extended to cover the business park, but Transit has already considered this option, according to Gerus, and has discounted it.
“In order to branch the existing Route 16, service would need to be provided hourly due to the length of the branched route,” Gerus said in the memo. “This would therefore provide reduced service on an existing route and inconvenience core riders in this area.”
Adjusting the route, Gerus notes, could mean leaving some people behind in this growing area of the city, especially with Transit’s service standard of having 90 per cent of the population within 500 metres of a Transit stop. Adjusting the #16 Southgate’s route is also difficult because every third run of the #99 Mainline becomes a Southgate bus when it reaches the intersection of Clair and Gordon.
“Staff feel it is likely to be one of our most rapidly growing routes in the near future, and do not recommend making any changes that would put pressure on the performance and reliability of that route,” the memo reads.
Could adjustments be made? Transit has looked at the possibility of running the Business Park route on weekdays only, and limiting the route to only run during peak times for a total of eight hours daily. Running weekdays only, the new route would save $185,844 while the peak service only option would save $609,824.
Council may take one of those two options, but Gerus’ memo notes that the #16 Southgate was once a peak-only service that was expanded all-day after four months due to demand.
The memo also includes figures of the projected employment growth in the Hanlon Creek Business Park over the next four years; the 600 people that work their now is expected to increase to 5,137 by 2024 when the area is scheduled to be full built out.
At this month’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Transit presented a plan to utilize five new buses purchased earlier this year. Along with the proposed #19 route, there will be two held in spare, one will be used to stabilize the timing on the #99 Mainline, and one will be dedicated to the expansion of the Community Bus system.
The total cost to operate the proposed expansion plan for Transit is $1.7 million, with $910,000 going to the operating of the new route to the Hanlon Creek Business Park.
Whatever plan that council approves Monday night for the buses, it will be referred to the December 3 budget meeting for final decision.