City Looking for Feedback on 10-Year Plan to Change Transit Routes

After last night’s discussion of the Transportation Master Plan, the City of Guelph is zooming in on one aspect of transportation planning that will be key to the TMP’s goal of getting people to make 19 per cent fewer trips by car. From now until Jun 20, the City is looking for feedback on proposed changes to transit routes that could be implemented over the next 10 years with the approval of the public and council.

“What we’re proposing for transit over the next decade allows us to deliver a more competitive, convenient, and reliable transit system that meets the community’s needs today and beyond,” said Transit general manager Robin Gerus in a statement. “It also moves us closer to meeting goals set out in the City’s Strategic Plan by improving connectivity of the whole transportation system—making it easy for people to travel within city limits.”

The proposed changes are thoroughly laid out in the proposed transit system document, along with an interactive map of the proposed changes and a video explaining them. In brief, it’s a 10-year plan that increases service 30 per cent, increases the number of stops by 45 per cent, and offers expanded Sunday service plus routes that focus on key growth areas like the Innovation District and Clair-Maltby.

The plan was informed by a community survey done in 2020 where two-thirds of respondents said that they did not take transit but would feel more inclined to do so if there were some changes. The top three changes asked for were more routes to desired locations, quicker travel times, and more frequent weekday service. Expanded hours on Sunday, improved bus stops, and fewer transfers were other ideas on how to improve service.

As they say, improvement is slow. The first year of the plan will see service restored to pre-COVID levels, some mergers of various university routes, and the potential replacement of on-demand service for the #16 Southgate and #19 Hanlon Creek routes with conventional bus service. The second year will see increased midday frequency on a few routes, a modified schedule for #3 Westmount, and increased frequency for the #99 Mainline on peak hours and on Sunday, but with 20-minute service on weekday evenings.

Year three is where things get interesting. Along with some new routing for the General Hospital, Victoria Road Rec Centre, Woodlawn Watson and Northwest Industrial routes, Transit will add the new #98 Speedvale that will depart Guelph Central Station and head up Eramosa Road to Victoria and the driving west from Victoria down Speedvale before reversing course and heading back. This service will run every 20 minutes on weekdays.

The next big year is year five when the #20 Northwest Industrial will be replaced by three new routes, while the #17 and #18 will be combined into a new #18 Watson Woodlawn route, and a new service will begin with the #17 Fife, which will ferry people between Stone Road Mall and the West End Rec Centre via the Hanlon. In year six, a new route will run along Stone Road from the new Transit Operations building and Stone Road Mall.

In year seven there are more big changes. The #9 Waterloo will be replaced with the #9 Waterloo Silvercreek, which assumes that by this point the two halves of Silvercreek will be reconnected under the railway tracks, and the #10 Imperial will be replaced by the #10 Paisley and that will focus on service up and down Paisley. Also, the #11 Willow West will be replaced by the #11 Edinburgh, which will be a sort spine route for Edinbugh Road from Paisley Road to the Walmart Centre while still detouring down Dawson Road to deliver people to medical services there.

Fine tuning of the new and old routes continue in years eight, nine and ten as Guelph Transit finalizes the completed new system, which will look more like a grid pattern serving major arteries in the city with simpler, and more frequent maps. You can see all the proposed maps and route suggestions starting on page 18 of the detailed report.

The City of Guelph is collecting feedback about all the proposed changes on their Have Your Say webpage until June 20. You can also send input via email to transit [at] guelph.ca or by calling 519-822-1811.

There will also be two virtual town halls on this subject. The first is on Tuesday June 8 at 7 pm, and the second is one week later on Wednesday June 16 at 7 pm. People will be able to participate in real time via Webex or you can passively follow along on the City’s Faebook page. Links can be found on the City’s website here.

“Tell us what we got right, what you like, if there’s something we overlooked, if something doesn’t quite work, or if something in our proposed transit system or implementation plan is going to cause you a lot of headache,” said Andrea Mikkila, Guelph Transit’s acting supervisor of planning and scheduling.

Once community input is collected and studied after June 20, it will be used to further refine the routes before coming back to city council in a formal report and proposal this November.

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