Summerside to study expansion of public transit
‘Clearly, there is a lot of room for improvement'
The City of Summerside wants to study how it can improve public transit in P.E.I.'s second city.
The city wants to hire a company with expertise in public transit to help them build a better model for the city of 15,000 people.
Coun. Justin Doiron said council is not laying blame on the current provider, but added service could be better.
Transit in the city is provided by T3, the same company that services the greater Charlottetown area. It has been providing transit services in Summerside for nearly eight years, operating one bus.
"We've been talking about transit for so long," Doiron said during a public council meeting held via video conference Tuesday night.
"Clearly, there is a lot of room for improvement whether that's on the city's end or the provider's end. It has nothing to do with what companies are doing what."
City council agreed to call for the request for proposals.
'Transit system was lacking'
The study will cost anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000, said city CAO Rob Philpot. That money is not budgeted.
Philpot said at this point council simply agreed to call for the request for proposals. Council will have to approve the expense after they get the RFPs back and see what it will actually cost.
The city wants the company to come in with a fresh set of eyes and review the current system, look at the current demographics of the community, as well as project what the future needs of city might be.
Coun. Cory Snow agreed the current transit system operating in the city needs improvements.
"I really felt our transit system was lacking," Snow told councillors.
"We need to make decisions either to enhance it or scrap it altogether because I don't think the current transit system is working."
Deputy Mayor Norma McColeman said she's hearing concerns from people that public transit in Summerside doesn't work if they are depending on it to get to and from work.
"They're looking for some consistency," said McColeman, adding the people she's talked to also want bus shelters put in place. There are currently no bus shelters in the city.
"I think that would increase our ridership."
'It's not necessarily a big money maker'
Aaron Wedge of Wedge Tours and Charters in Summerside has already offered the city its services. Those discussions were in the preliminary stages but have been put on hold since the pandemic.
Doiron said any improvements to the public transit system will cost taxpayers more.
"But at the same time people need to realize that just like baseball diamonds and hockey rinks, transit is a service that cities provide," said Doiron, in an interview after the council meeting.
"It's not necessarily a big money maker."