A new contract in 2022 is driving an investigation into the future of Collingwood's transit system.
During Tuesday night’s (Oct. 12) development and operations services standing committee meeting, councillors got a look at the preliminary findings and recommendations out of the Transit Service Review and Optimization Study, and voted to recommend moving to the public consultation phase of the review.
“The objective here is to get more people using transit,” said Chris Prentice, senior associate with IBI Group who spoke during the meeting. “I know cost is always a factor, but I think you want to have a service that is going to be attractive, convenient and useful.”
The Town of Collingwood initiated a Transit Service Review and Optimization Study in early 2020 to undergo a detailed analysis of the Colltrans transit system. Collingwood’s last transit review was completed in 2006.
The consultants who are completing the review, IBI Group, also completed the previous review in 2006. As part of the 2020 review, they held multiple public consultations, consulted with staff, the Accessibility Advisory Committee and the Collingwood Climate Action Team. They also studied transit systems in compatible municipalities such as Stratford, Huntsville and Kawartha Lakes.
The study presented on Tuesday made some key recommendations, including that the town adopt an on-demand service strategy as of July 1, 2022 to coincide with a new operating contract, and combine the conventional and specialized transit services into the same contract.
On-demand service would mean riders would book rides online in advance and buses would only be deployed for requested rides.
“You should move away from the fixed routes,” said Prentice. “On-demand can be scaleable.”
A fare increase is also being recommended, to begin in April 2022. Specifically, the study recommends increasing individual rides from $2 to $2.50 and monthly passes from $40 to $50 by April 2022, and then increase them further to $3 for individual rides and $60 for a monthly pass within five years.
The consultant recommends exploring a regional transit service between Collingwood, Blue Mountains, Wasaga Beach, Clearview and Stayner townships. It specifically suggests adding service between Nottawa and Collingwood, and Stayner and Collingwood.
The study suggests it would be financially worthwhile to return the Collingwood-to-Wasaga Beach route back to the Town of Collingwood from the County of Simcoe.
Lastly, the study recommends assessing the feasibility of introducing battery electric buses to the fleet, and adding a 0.5 full-time-equivalent staff position to manage technical support for the staff who currently manage the system.
The Town of Collingwood has been operating CollTrans since 1982. Over the past five years, until 2019, CollTrans served nearly 200,000 rides annually.
To read the full study, click here.
Public feedback on the recommendations will be accepted through the Engage Collingwood website until Oct. 29. Staff will collect the feedback and provide a final report back to the development and operations services standing committee on Nov. 8.