Barrie Transit is implementing changes to its bus routes, which will take effect on Aug. 25.
The changes will provide faster and more frequent services and are being made with no additional operating or capital costs, according to the City of Barrie.
“In the fall of 2018, ridership in Barrie experienced significant growth with the implementation of a U-Pass,” Brent Forsyth, Barrie’s transit director, told Global News. “What we’ve seen is kind of in the northeast quadrant of the city, ridership has grown exponentially.”
The Georgian College U-Pass costs $86 per semester and is added to students’ fees. Regularly, a student bus pass would cost $255 per semester.
Route #100 Blue and Red Express, formerly known as the Georgian Express, is the city’s first express route in the city and was implemented in fall 2018, according to Forsyth.
“It quickly became our highest-performing route throughout the city, so we saw that need to expand on that and add additional service because buses were at capacity and in some cases were actually turning riders away,” he said.
Route #100 will run at about a 22 minute frequency at peak time and will have four buses on it, Forsyth added.
Other routes that will change are #3, #4, #5 and #8, Forsyth said. Route #7 will also experience a minor change, added Mike McConnell, a transit operations planner at the City of Barrie.
A portion of Route #5 will be removed, Forsyth said, but that piece of the route will be covered by routes #8 and #100.
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“There’s also a couple other small changes in the south end of the city, where the #3 and the #4 are kind of flipping their routing, which improves our longtime performance and reduces travel time for the riders,” Forsyth added.
According to Forsyth, flipping the service on routes #3 and #4 will reduce travel time for most residents by about 10 minutes each way.
Route #7 will also be extended into Georgian College, McConnell said. He added that five riders will experience shorter travel time for every one rider that experiences greater travel time with the changes.
“It’ll be a five-to-one benefit-to-cost ratio based on our ridership numbers.”
The updated routes were designed using ridership and real-time bus tracking data, which was collected through the buses’ on-board automated passenger counters.
Forsyth said the city is also planning for its future.
“We’re also planning toward the future, too, as the city continues to grow, in the south end especially,” he said.
“We’re planning these changes to make sure that we’re supporting those needs as well and making sure that as that growth happens, we’re able to add or modify routes slightly to accommodate for that, without kind of having to do a system overhaul.”