It's been a tough couple of month for Transit with the realignment of routes and schedules not going exactly as planned, so they've announced some tweaks for January that might try and alleviate the pressure, or might create some new issues.
If you use the #3 Westmount, #41 Downtown-University Express, #11 Willow West, #14 Grange, #16 Southgate, #40 Scottsdale Express, #51 U Janefield, #52 U Kortright, #57 U Ironwood, or #58 U Edinburgh then you're going to notice some changes in your commute to work, school, or wherever come the new year. As of January 7, the following route changes will go into effect:
- Route #3 Westmount will operate Monday to Friday every 40 minutes. Based on low ridership numbers, the previous 20-minute service is not needed.
- Route #41 Downtown-University Express will operate Monday to Friday every 10 minutes from 7:35 to 10:55 a.m. and every 20 minutes from 2:15 to 4:55 p.m.
- Route #11 Willow West/#14 Grange will operate Monday to Friday every 30 minutes until the 8:15 p.m. departure. Beginning at 8:50 p.m. service will be every 40 minutes until end of day.
- Route #16 Southgate will operate Monday to Friday every 30 minutes; providing service to Clair Road East, Hawkins Drive, Poppy Drive East, and Gordon Street. Two new stops, including an accessible stop, will be introduced. Another change will see no more layover on Clair Road. Riders who would like to limit their layover time are encouraged to get off at 1750 Gordon Street and transfer to the #99 Mainline Northbound.
- Route #40 Scottsdale Express will operate Monday to Friday between 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. The 6 p.m. departure will no longer be offered.
- Route #51 U Janefield will no longer stop at Stone Road Mall, but will provide more coverage along Wilsonview Avenue (routes 50 U Stone and 51 U Janefield). The 6:50 a.m. and 7:20 a.m. departures will no longer be offered.
- The 6:50 a.m. departure on Route #52 U will no longer be offered Monday to Friday.
- A new morning departure at 7:20 a.m. from the University Centre will be offered on routes #57 U Ironwood/#58 U Edinburgh. The 10:30 p.m. departure will no longer be offered Monday to Friday.
“The adjustments are part of our ongoing effort to improve the service for riders as we work toward building a more efficient and effective transit system for Guelph,” said Mike Spicer, general manager of Guelph Transit, in a press release.
Some of the adjustments address fairly obvious problems with the system. Issues with the #16 Southgate have frequently been cited as one of the most problematic because of delays and the unusual scheduling where every second or third #99 Mainline bus turns into the #16. Some of the complaints have come from people working at businesses south of Clair, for whom timing is critical when trying to start the early morning shift. They take the bus, and still have to walk what they call "The Green Mile" in order to get to work by 7 am.
“We heard loud and clear from our riders that Route 16 was not working and so we are pleased to extend the route to provide more service and get people to and from their destinations,” Spicer added about the #16 changes specifically.
You may also note that a large number of the changes affect university, or university-centric routes. Although exact numbers have not been released, senior managers at the City have told council that about "five or six bus loads" of people travelling to the University of Guelph are still being missed. The realignment, in part, was meant to address the busloads of people not being picked up. A not-so-surprising move is the limiting of the #41 Downtown-University Express, which has been the frequent victim of cancelled trips whether that's for an hour, or several hours at a time.
For in-town users, they may feel especially targeted with these changes. The 40-minute schedule after 8:15 pm for Willow West and Grange route users will feel the chill, especially Grange users who are stranded out on the edge of town on Watson Pkwy N after 9 pm at night. But these users, and the people taking the #3 Westmount will all see their commutes longer with a 40-minute schedule on those routes, since the buses for the #3, #11, and #14 will arrive 15 to 20 minutes before they can transfer. It's worth noting that the #3 also services St. Joseph's Health Centre where a lot of people volunteer, visit relatives, or take physical therapy.
There's no word if there are any cost savings from changing these routes, or how those funds might be allocated if there are savings. It will also be interesting to see if the general public will be aware enough of the changes in advance of January 7 because the last time Transit changed routes and schedules in January, it did not go so well.
The new route schedules and can be found at the Transit website, but for the luddites paper schedules will be available starting on December 22, and will be available at City Hall, Guelph Civic Museum, Evergreen Seniors Community Centre, West End Community Centre and the Victoria Road Recreation Centre. Notices of change will also be posted at the affected stops.