If you take the bus in Yorkton, get ready for some big changes coming on Feb. 1.
Instead of the Dial-A-Bus system, the city has moved to regular bus routes, with two buses tackling two bus routes in the city. The buses will now be on two 30 minute loops, with new stops based on data from users. The bus stops are 400 meters apart, so some old stops have been eliminated. Old shelters have been removed and new shelters will be placed in high traffic locations.
John Denysek, Transit Committee member and Regional Director of SaskAbilities, said that the plan to improve the transit system has been in the works for the past year, looking at how they could improve the state of transit in Yorkton with the resources available to them.
“We hope that people are pleased with the changes that have been made.”
The bus on those routes will be different as well, with the old bus replaced by 12 passenger vans. Denysek explained that from the usage data they had, the current bus rarely had more than 10-12 passengers, so going to the vans would meet the needs of the city.
“They’re cheaper to operate, they’re easier to ride, and the quality of the ride is so much better too. This was making sense. We looked at other municipalities of a similar size, and they’re utilizing similar vehicles, so we’re thinking this makes sense for Yorkton.”
Over the next sixth months, the Transit Committee will keep a close eye on the new system and respond to passenger feedback to make adjustments.
“Transit can’t meet everyone’s needs, but we’re going to try to meet the majority. We’re going to focus on four groups, that being seniors, people on lower incomes, newcomers and people with disabilities. That’s how we designed the system. We realize people are going to run into issues, but that’s to be expected with any type of changes. We will work with those individuals to see how their needs will be met either through the city transit or the other forms of support that are available in the community.”
To celebrate the new changes, and give residents a chance to test out the new system, the bus will also be free for the month of February for everyone in the city. After February the cost for a ride will increase to $3.50 a trip, from $3.00. The last time the price was increased was over five years ago, and the cost of running the system has increased significantly in that time. According to a release from the city, the price of a bus service went from $206,170 in 2012 to $273,591 in 2017.
The Dial-A-Bus number will be in effect for the month of February to inform people of the changes and answer questions they might have.