By Mike Williscraft
Flat $3 fares, door-to-door service where needed, professionally trained drivers, one flat fee for the municipality…sounds like the perfect start to a transit system, yes?
Generally speaking, Grimsby council thought so as it listened to a pitch from Matt Robinson, director of GO implementation for Niagara Region and Robert Salewytsch, program manager, transit services, Niagara Region.
“In my experience, if something sounds too good to be true, it is. So what’s the catch?” asked Coun. Reg Freake.
The $250,000 ask from the Region is not small change, but as Coun. Lianne Vardy noted, that amount is essentially what Grimsby was discussing as a potential cost for a transportation pilot project.
It was noted Pelham and Lincoln have already signed onto the project. For Lincoln that will mean the end of its ULinc transit program. At a cost of subsidizing each ride to the tune of nearly $132 each, many may be happy to see it go.
Salewytsch said the positives are many:
• flat hourly rate, which means flat cost fares, which can help boost ridership
• guaranteed annual service hours
• professional drivers
• regulated insurance, and
• Monitored maintenance and cleanliness.
The supplier of the proposed service – Via – has a service contract with Mercedes Benz. Seven-passenger Mercedes vans will be used for the service, which will include in-town rides and inter-municipal rides as well (at a different fare structure).
Riders will be able to go from any point in Niagara West to any destination in Niagara West, said Salewytsch.
The suggested fares are $3 for intra-municipal rides and $6 for inter-municipal.
There will be points for pick-ups, but riders will have a profile created in which they can register for pick-up at their door if they are in an area with no sidewalks, there is poor weather, or they are physically unable to walk to the pick-up point.
Salewytsch said the Region is looking for Grimsby – a presentation is imminent at West Lincoln council, too – to sign on for a year, with another one-year option.
Grimsby council referred the proposal to its budget process.