The new transit system in Summerside is continuing to struggle while the bus service in Charlottetown has reached a record high number of riders.
Mike Cassidy is the owner of Trius Transit. He operates the bus service in both cities as well as the service that runs in the communities of Stratford and Cornwall. He said he knew when he started the service in Summerside a few months ago, that it would be difficult at first.
He said ridership is even lower than he projected with only about 20 people per day.
"What I'm seeing are the growing pains over July and August in Summerside," said Cassidy. "My staff are up there working with the students. We have an exhibit table set up to be able to show students how they can travel within Summerside and also on the county line from Summerside to Charlottetown."
Cassidy said he is optimistic things will turn around in Summerside. He notes the success now being reached in Charlottetown took years of hard work to develop.
Last Wednesday there was a record number of passenger fares in Charlottetown. Just two days later that record was shattered with 1,677 fares on Friday. Those numbers are imprressive when compared to seven years ago when only 75 riders a day were hopping on the bus.
Cassidy is confident the same thing can happen in Summerside. He's hoping the numbers will pick up once the students at the new Holland College centre realize there is public transit available.
"We are meeting with government agencies," said Cassidy. "We are meeting with one association and it is an educational learning experience and that's what we are prepared to do to build the ridership."
The city of Summerside is giving Trius Tansit $2,500 per month to operate the bus service, a one-year pilot program.
When the new program began operating earlier this summer, Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart said it was time for the city to embrace public transit, a system that many jurisdictions subsidize in order to keep fares low.