Codiac Transpo's new partial service, launched on Monday, is generating mixed reactions among bus riders in the greater Moncton area.
Adele Gautreau, who doesn't own a car, was pleased to see buses back on the road after nearly six months without public transit.
"Smiles were all over our faces to see the bus come around the corner," said Gautreau, with her two sons, aged one and eight, in tow.
"It was a rough summer," walking to doctors' appointments and to get groceries, she said. "We made it through."
"Let's just say there was a lot of fresh air in those boys' lungs."
Gautreau says she's relieved service resumed before the winter weather hits. It's difficult to get around in the snow with a stroller, she said.
But Karen Haley, a bus user for 30 years, says the new routes and pickup points are difficult to get used to.
"It's like moving to another town and not knowing the bus schedule so you have to learn it all over again," she said.
Codiac Transpo revamped the service following the five-month lockout.
Officials hope the new service, which includes more buses being on 30-minute loops, reduced travel times, shorter waits at transfer points and the ability to expand or contract routes based on rider demand trends, will help boost ridership.
Bus driver Kathleen Paquette says a few kinks are to be expected, given that drivers only had one week to learn the new schedule and routes.
"We did have one of our runs that were a little behind, but we were able to call the dispatcher and let the other bus know that we needed a few minutes," said Paquette, who was acting as an onboard guide on Monday.
The City of Moncton had locked out about 80 bus drivers, mechanics and service people on June 27 in a contract dispute, with wages being a key stumbling block
The city and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1290 reached a deal on Nov. 30. The 9.2-year collective agreement includes an average annual increase of 2.58 per cent.
Partial service resumed Monday with buses rolling on 10 routes.
Full service is expected to be restored by late January.
Passengers will be able to travel for free until Jan. 31.
Codiac Transpo operates in Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe.