By Joanne McDonald
The uLinc bus has become a familiar sight across Lincoln and at $1 a ride, residents and visitors can’t beat the price.
Even better, they can purchase a transit pass which is valid for 11 rides and costs $10.
Launched in 2017 and since evolving to meet rider needs, the uLinc is having a good run on positive feedback – riders say it gives them independence and mobility.
And now as the project moves from pilot to permanent status, the uLinc has become an integral part of the fabric that connects the community.
One knows the bus is heading in the right direction when a passenger claims his vote in the next election will be based entirely upon who supports the uLinc service.
Public transit is key to community livability and sustainability, Sarah Hague, Lincoln Transit Coordinator said following a presentation of the quarterly report that goes to town council April 15.
“Therefore, for as little as $1, residents and visitors can move around Lincoln, generate business in our urban centres, provide access to medical or day-to-day supplies, and get employees to work.”
Hague said operating costs are budgeted at $173,759 for 2019. This includes offset from revenue such as gas tax and fares.
“The Town is working to submit our application for provincial gas tax which can fund up to 75 per cent of the municipality’s own spending on transit.”
Staff have worked with the BTS Network (bus vendor and operator) to track ridership and resident feedback.
The graph outlining ridership shows there were more than 2,400 riders in 2018.
“We have established riders that use the system consistently and are still welcoming new riders all the time,” Hague said.
The graph outlining the weekday routes for this spring shows three routes operating Monday to Friday, each starting and ending at the Fleming Centre:
• Route 1: Beamsville South operates mainly south of King Street, connecting Edelheim Apartments and the Albright Centre to the heart of Beamsville and the Fleming Centre.
• Route 2: Beamsville North operates north of King Street and provides access to shopping opportunities on and around Ontario Street, the GO Bus Stop, the industrial sector on Union Road, and Golden Horseshoe Estates.
• Route 3: Vineland / Jordan connects Beamsville with Vineland and Jordan with stops in the Heritage community in Vineland and Jordan Village. More stops are made than shown on the route map.
“We just implemented a new flag stop route along Route 3 which now allows riders to flag down the driver along King Street to access the bus,” Hague said.
“We will be implementing new stops at our pools and splash pads and extending the service hours for additional opportunities to take the bus.”
Hague said ULinc allows residents of all ages and socio-economic statuses the ability to move across Lincoln, which facilitates economic development and supports workforce development.
“I’m proud of this entire team,” Lincoln CAO Mike Kirkopoulos said in a recent tweet.
“In a short time they have taken us from no program or service to an incremental brand new service.
Hague said ULinc is also an important component to supporting the introduction of the future GO train service in Lincoln.
The Town continues to work with the Niagara Region to bring inter-municipal transit to West Niagara which will allow residents to not only move within Lincoln, but to connect more freely to other Niagara communities.
The service will continue to implement a number of improvements including access to uLinc information in brochures and online, additional connections to the GO bus, access to Apps and trip planners and new bus stop locations.
The bus is fully accessible and can accommodate two wheelchairs, two bicycles on a bike rack on the front of the bus and storage space for walkers and portable grocery carts.
Transit passes are available for purchase at Town Hall, Fleming Centre, Lincoln Museum & Cultural Centre and on the bus from the bus driver. Children five years and under and CNIB holders ride for free.