By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Remember that old saying, use it or lose it?
With Northumberland County almost half-way through the one-year trial period for the Commuter Connect transit service – which not only transports commuters within the county but also to the GO station in Oshawa – a healthy ridership means more chance of keeping the service going.
Warden Mandy Martin and Deputy Warden Brian Ostrander celebrated the approaching six-month milestone by commuting on this shuttle service from its Colborne stop to Cobourg for the county-council meeting Wednesday.
Martin related at the meeting how much she had enjoyed the ride, and meeting the driver, who had been driving for Community Care for more than a decade.
“A wonderful advocate and proponent, enthusiastic beyond belief,” she recounted.
And as they disembarked at Northumberland Mall, Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP David Piccini was there to greet them, along with a number of officials who offered some insight into ridership since the pilot was launched in September.
Recent data show continued growth of ridership, as more and more users access the service to connect with Northumberland communities, meet with friends, travel to work and attend medical appointments. In the first six months, 588 registered users have signed up to the payment portal with 89 inter-county trips (representing a 59% increase since Jan. 1) and 853 Oshawa trips (a 34% increase since Jan. 1).
Riders surveyed indicated that visits to friends and family constituted the number-one reason to use the service (58%), followed by work-related activities (47%). Accessing entertainment and medical appointments also ranked high on the list.
The County has partnered with Hop In Technologies, a transportation-logistics provider, to co-ordinate this convenient week-day bus service. In addition to operating the on-line portal for ticket purchases, Hop In has contracted Community Care Northumberland to provide bus services within Northumberland, while Eastern Charters is delivering the Durham route, taking passengers directly to the Oshawa GO and back again to Northumberland.
Colborne-based The Lola Project is handling the marketing, and council heard about plans for things like one-page sell sheets and rack cards to be distributed to libraries and other public facilities throughout the county.
“What I really want to say is, get the word out,” Ostrander urged.
“What we really need is for those thousands of people who said they would use this commuter bus to use that commuter bus and tell everyone how wonderful it is to use and how easy it is and takes cars off the road.”
This pilot is due to conclude in September 2023, with the County collaborating with Hop In during this time to evaluate ridership to fully understand how best to plan for any future services.
The service can be accessed through CommuterConnect.ca, where you can view schedules and rates as well as purchase tickets. The service also offers three points where you can purchase tickets in person – that would be the Community Care locations in Cobourg (1158 Division St.), Campbellford (174 Oliver Rd.) and Brighton (46 Prince Edward St.).