A city bus heads up Lazulite Drive in Whitehorse on Oct. 1, 2020. A new Whitehorse transit schedule is anticipated to come into effect this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

A city bus heads up Lazulite Drive in Whitehorse on Oct. 1, 2020. A new Whitehorse transit schedule is anticipated to come into effect this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Work on transit changes continues

Public input being reviewed

A new Whitehorse transit route and schedule is anticipated to come into effect this year, but exactly when isn’t yet clear.

In a Jan. 7 interview, transit manager Jason Bradshaw said officials are continuing to consider possibilities for the system modernization as they review the public input that came out of a survey and town hall session held in the fall.

“We are in the middle of reviewing (the survey and public input),” he said.

A council and administrative roundtable focused on potential changes and the input to the route and schedule is slotted for early February.

Along with any decisions on system changes will be a decision on when changes will come into effect.

Bradshaw said the department is considering having the new routes and schedule coincide with a holiday to help make it easier for residents to remember when the changes come into effect. Exactly what holiday will depend on when the changes are approved.

At the same time that the transit department is at work on potential schedule and route changes, the city’s business and technology services department is looking at possibilities for apps that would allow passengers to be notified in real time of bus delays and/or other more immediate information transit information riders might find helpful.

“It will be a separate (project),” Bradshaw said.

The potential changes come out of the city’s transit master plan done in 2018, which included a long list of recommendations aimed at improving transit route alignment and the schedule to better match with travel demand.

Among the proposals for routes outlined in the fall was the elimination of some routes that have low ridership in favour of a home-to-hub service that would be provided to customers in those areas where they would call for a ride to the nearest transit hub.

It was also noted in the survey the changes being contemplated could see a pilot of the home-to-hub service for the neighbourhoods of Raven’s Ridge and Lobird.

The survey also showed a total of five bus routes could be in place compared to the six routes there are now.

The changes, it was stated by the city at that time, would simplify the bus network, remove service duplication and better match transit service with the demand. There would be increased service to and from Yukon University to accommodate growing demand there with coordinated schedules aimed at facilitating transfers at the university and Canada Games Centre. All routes would be serviced every hour with half hour service at peak periods on all except the Hillcrest/Airport route that would travel from that neighbourhood to Porter Creek and Whistle Bend.

Other routes that were outlined would travel from Riverdale to Yukon University, Copper Ridge to downtown and (during peak periods) Riverdale, Porter Creek and Crestview to Yukon University, and Whistle Bend to Yukon University with various transfers between the routes.

The current system provides coverage throughout the city with transfers along Second Avenue that allow for fewer transfers between neighbourhoods. It also “serves long distances between neighbourhoods with very few stops and low passenger activity (for example, from Downtown to Lobird and from Lobird to Granger)” and “does not align with existing demand – three or more routes serve Downtown, Porter Creek, Granger, and Riverdale, yet only one route serves Yukon University and service to Whistle Bend is only provided during peak periods.”

The current system also provides one-hour frequency on all routes with half-hour service during peak periods on the Riverdale and a Copper Ridge/Granger route.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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