Ajax Mayor Shaun Collier is commuting by bus for two weeks to better understand what’s working and what isn’t when it comes to getting around the region.
“I receive a lot of complaints but I don’t have a lot of experience in the area as far as actually taking the transit so we wanted to get out and actually experience it,” said Collier, who is also the Durham Region Transit chair.
The initiative started last week. Collier has been checking out a new area and a new route on each trip.
The mayor has taken the service from Bowmanville to the University of Ontario Institute of Technology north campus to Durham College in Whitby as well as from the Pickering GO Station to Oshawa Centre.
He’s hoping to encourage people to use public transit more often.
“For people to use transit, it has to be reliable, it has to be convenient,” said Collier. He pointed to the 900 Pulse route, which runs along Highway 2. “This route is very efficient, and it’s very reliable so people use it.”
According to the mayor, Durham is currently home to about 640,000 people, and its population is expected to exceed one million in the next 10 to 15 years. DRT is looking to expand its service in order to keep up.
“Our biggest challenge is to keep pace with the growth of the region. We not only need to expand our service physically into new neighbourhoods and new subdivisions but also offer capacity on those busy routes where you see a lot of people travelling along the spines of our network,” said Vincent Patterson, DRT general manager.
Right now, DRT operates 230 buses covering over 50 routes. The service had a record year in 2018 with just short of 11 million passengers.
However, some of those passengers have complaints.
“There will be times when the buses don’t come; there’s no cancellation notice,” said Brad Bowers.
“The transfers, they don’t last long enough,” said Jacob Glazier.
Collier has been logging his findings: “Things like wayfinding signage, things like extending the concrete pads out so when you get off the back of the bus you’re not stepping into mud.”
Once the project wraps up, he hopes to meet with the DRT board to present his report and go over the service.