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Most HSR routes resuming pre-pandemic service in September along with PRESTO price hike

A majority of HSR bus schedules are set to return to pre-pandemic levels in the fall, according to the City of Hamilton. Global News

Hamilton’s transit officials say HSR service rolled back during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic is set to return to regular fall service with the province gradually lifting health measures.

The service has been operating different variations of weekday route schedules since the beginning of COVID-19, including modified Saturday schedules, an enhanced Saturday schedule and regular weekday summer schedules.

Most of the affected routes will return with some being modified as part of Hamilton’s Ten Year Local Transit Strategy, which was halted in 2020 as a result of precautions implemented due to the coronavirus.

Read more: Over $500 million from 3 governments earmarked for Hamilton’s public transit infrastructure

“These schedule changes reflected the need to balance public health protocols, ensure the safety of our operators and customers, meet demand for each specific route, and provide reliable service for customers who were travelling for essential purposes,” transit director Maureen Cosyn Heath told Global News.

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In late March 2020, most routes endured a transition to new weekday schedules that operated similarly to weekend services. One route, 51 University, was suspended during the pandemic.

“We are ready to welcome riders back to regular service levels this fall, and through our ongoing commitment to the Ten Year Local Transit Strategy, and this year’s year five service changes, we continue to (Re)envision transit in Hamilton,” Cosyn Heath said.

The city will also add five cents for non-cash fares for those using a PRESTO card or special purpose tickets. The increase was also a pre-pandemic strategy to supplement forthcoming changes and upgrades to bus service.

Read more: HSR drivers call for increased safety measures on Hamilton buses, prioritization in vaccine rollout

With the easing of COVID-19 measures, a number of planned strategies are set to go into place in September. They include:

  • Route 20 A-Line frequency every 15 minutes weekday morning and afternoon peak periods. Service hour expansion to include weekday evenings with 30-minute frequency until 10 p.m.
  • Changes in frequency with Upper Stoney Creek routes 43 Stone Church and 44 Rymal. The routes will also have new connections with the Heritage Greene Terminal along with 11 Parkdale now exiting the Red Hill Valley Parkway at Stone Church Road.
  • More stops at Amazon’s new fulfillment centre for the A-Line and Route 27 Upper James.

An HSR myRide one-year pilot with on-demand service for the 18 Waterdown route begins on Sept. 7.

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The service will adjust the route as per customer requests and include direct trips, quicker journeys and shorter wait times.

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