Making busing better

Buses should be easier to catch with the changes that the city is making to transit. Starting in July, the city is instituting a new loop-based transit system. Not only will it eliminate some of the gaps in service, but it also means that riders won't have to transfer to another bus at Ogilvie Street.

Buses should be easier to catch with the changes that the city is making to transit.

Starting in July, the city is instituting a new loop-based transit system.

Not only will it eliminate some of the gaps in service, but it also means that riders won’t have to transfer to another bus at Ogilvie Street.

“It’s a much better system,” said transit manager Cheri Malo. “You can transfer anywhere in the city, which is completely different than what we were doing before.

Each neighbourhood will be connected to both the downtown and one other neighbourhood.

For example, the Porter Creek express bus will go all the way to Riverdale through the downtown and then back to Porter Creek.

With more than one loop servicing each neighbourhood, waiting for a bus won’t take as long, said Malo.

The schedule has also been simplified.

Buses will arrive at stops at the same time each hour.

If it comes to the stop at 8:03 a.m., it will arrive at three minutes past the hour, every hour.

“You won’t need to carry around a schedule as much anymore,” said Malo.

All of these changes came out of recommendations from the 2005 transit task force.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Whitehorse public relations manager Matthew Grant.

The city budgeted more than $200,000 this year to make the changes, and there’s about $400,000 earmarked to keep things going for the next few years.

The city is working hard to announce the changes.

New schedules are being handed out by bus drivers and are being distributed around town.

They’re also available online.

“In less than two weeks we’ve had about a thousand people download schedules, so it’s pretty exciting,” said Grant.

Once things get up and running, the next phase of the plan is to try to get people who don’t ride the bus to give it a try.

That promotion will start in the fall.

“For people that might need a bit of a nudge to get them on the bus, Yukon summers are not the best time to do that,” said Grant.

With these changes to the system, the city hopes to increase ridership by 30 per cent over the next year.

“We’re asking everyone to try the system,” said Malo. “It’s a great system and, hopefully, everyone will start looking at it and realize that.”

They’re already getting a lot of positive feedback.

“For families, putting their child on and transferring at Ogilvie was not the healthiest spot to end,” said Malo. “I’ve already had so many families say this is just great, ‘cause now, no matter what subdivision they start in, you’re guaranteed that they’re going be able to get off at Rotary Park.”

While the hours have been extended a little, there is still no Sunday service.

“Primarily, the system is built right now to get people to and from work for the regular work hours,” said Grant.

While the system is designed to make it easy to expand service, and it’s something the city would like to do, they have to make the business case for it first, said Grant.

“We hold no illusions; this will not be the panacea,” he said. “This will be an amazing system for those that want to get to and from work.

“We’re making it a lot easier and a lot more convenient.”

Contact Josh Kerr at

joshk@yukon-news.com

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