The cliche, use it or lose it, has never rung truer.
The District Municipality of Muskoka is in the process of reevaluating its rural transportation routes due to low ridership, particularly on two of its Huntsville routes.
So far the two routes in Huntsville, one from Dwight coming across [Hwy.] 60 and the other from Baysville coming up [Hwy.] 117, have not been all that successful so we’re probably going to have to go back to the drawing board and see if it’s the route or if it’s the day. We did a fair amount of consultation beforehand with service providers and the user community, but we still haven’t really found the right match for Huntsville yet. District Commissioner of Community Services Rick Williams.
The District embarked on a pilot project in 2015, with a grant from the Ministry of Transportation, aimed at providing transportation opportunities for residents living in remote and rural communities by using school buses. The idea was that when school buses are not being used to transport students, they could be deployed to and from rural communities to urban centres, enabling rural residents to attend medical appointments, shop or simply get out of the house. But some of those routes seem to be more popular than others; consequently the District is in the process of reevaluating those routes.
“Basically the break-even position on these is sort of ten users a day and we’ve been giving them about a year and a half to build up a ridership and the numbers in both Dwight/Dorset and Baysville are well below the ten users a day,” he said. “So we’re basically going to give it another try,” said Williams, noting that marketing the routes better and tying them in with various community events or changing the days when the buses run might net better results.
He said two of the routes – Honey Harbour to Midland and MacTier to Bracebridge – are the most popular routes thus far. In terms of the other existing routes, some may be tweaked or cancelled altogether, or the route days may change. That is still to be determined, said Williams who noted that District staff will work on redesigning the routes this fall. The fares are as follows: round trips cost $5 for adults and $2 for teens. Children pay $1. The bus does not run on weekends, holidays or school summer holidays.
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