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Saint John Transit has lost about 400,000 riders since 2009 when hours and routes were cut.

Saint John's struggling transit system has suffered a dramatic loss of riders in the last three years and some riders worry about the future of the transit system if it is hit with more cuts.

Saint John council is in the middle of drafting its 2013 budget and the state of city transit is one of the problems city politicians are struggling with.

The transit service has been hurt by cuts to routes and hours of service since 2009. Those service reductions led to a drop of roughly 400,000 riders.

Genevieve Sweigard, a low-income single mother, says the transit system is crucial for her to navigate the city. She recently wrote a letter to council, asking that it devote more money to improve the bus service.

'If you don't have adequate transit service to accommodate people to work, how are they going get a job?'—Genevieve Sweigard, Saint John Transit user

Sweigard contends the existing service is simply not good enough, especially for people who work in jobs with odd hours.

"So, it's call centre work, mall work, working in fast food restaurants, all of that is shift work. So if you don't have adequate transit service to accommodate people to work, how are they going get a job?  Ergo they stay in the system," Sweigard said.

She said she wants the city to spend money on improving accessibility.

"I luckily have a lot of support from friends here in Saint John and family outside of Saint John. So, as a result, I'm able to make it work," she said.

"However, I am very pro-active in terms of car pooling, finding out when people are going to grocery stores to do my regular daily activities in order to try to skirt using cabs on a regular basis because it's so expensive by cab."

Needs $500K to maintain status quo

Frank McCarey, the general manager of Saint John Transit, said the service needs an additional $500,000 just to maintain the already reduced service.

He said he’s heard many people complain about the accessibility of the city buses.

"A lot of the people who have to use the bus don't work 9 to 5, they work odd hours, and there's a lot of people having great difficulty using our service now because we're not out early enough," he said.