By Doug Hallett
Guelph Transit is making changes to its routes serving the city’s two main industrial areas, as part of an ongoing effort to deal with criticisms of the new bus routes and schedules that went into effect Jan. 1.
Changes to Route 21, the industrial route serving the Hanlon Business Park, will start this Friday. However, changes to Route 20, which serves the northwest industrial area, are still being finalized and won’t go into effect until Feb. 27, said Guelph Transit general manager Michael Anders.
More bus stops are being added along Gordon Street and also along Southgate Drive, which runs in an oval through the Hanlon Business Park, “so the walk for employees in that end of town won’t be so far,” Anders said in an interview.
The other major change to Route 21 will see additional buses leave St. George’s Square at 5:15 p.m. and 11:15 p.m. Up to now, the last buses in these two service “windows” have left the square a half-hour before these times. As a result, some workers whose shifts end at 5 p.m. or 11 p.m. have missed the last bus, if they clocked out a bit late for some reason, he said.
Under the new bus system that started Jan. 1, buses don’t run continually on the two industrial routes. Instead, they run in three service windows. With the two additional buses, Route 21 will now operate from 5:45-8:45 a.m., 1:45-5:15 p.m. and 7:45-11:15 p.m.
The two extra buses at 5:15 p.m. and 11:15 p.m. will also be added to Route 20 as part of the changes to that northwest route, Anders said, but not until Feb. 27.
Both industrial routes provide 30-minute service during the windows when they operate. The schedules of the two routes are identical except for the first window, where the final Route 20 bus leaves the square at 8:15 a.m., rather than 8:45 a.m.
The changes to Route 20 are taking longer to finalize because the road network in the northwest industrial area is a lot more complicated than in the Hanlon Business Park, Anders said. There are “lots of little squares to cover off,” as well as some streets that “don’t go all the way through,” he said. “The road pattern is not conducive to easy transit travel” in the northwest.
Some workers in this industrial area now “face a fairly extensive walk to get to a bus stop,” Anders said. Transit officials are looking at options for improving the situation, while still keeping the running time on the route to under an hour so that additional buses aren’t needed, he said.
Changes to Route 20 are to be announced on Feb. 21.
The changes to the two industrial routes follow other changes made since Jan. 1 in response to feedback to the new bus system.
Some big changes went into effect on Feb. 6, and Anders says the reaction to them has been positive. The changes have had the desired effect, and bus connections are now routinely being made, Anders said. He said the issue of buses running late on Route 2 A/B has been “essentially eliminated, and riders are making their transfer at Wal-Mart and St. George’s Square on a regular basis.”
Bus drivers “are indicating to us that the new Route 2 A/B is working and the level of frustration for both operators and passengers has been reduced significantly,” he said in a recent city hall memo. The new Route 15 “has been well received, and riders on College Avenue west of the Hanlon are very happy with the enhanced service. We implemented this new route with an A.M. schedule that allows riders to connect with buses at the University Centre/St. George’s Square to get to the industrial areas of the city first thing in the morning,” he said.
Transit officials are now focusing on ways to address the capacity issue in the south end, which has led to full buses passing many riders at bus stops. A few additional buses might be acquired by the city.